Peer-Reviewed Journal Details
Mandatory Fields
Leonard, James; Windle, James
International Journal of Drug Policy
‘I could have went down a different path’: Talking to people who used drugs problematically and service providers about irish drug policy alternatives
Optional Fields
Decriminalisation Drug policy Ireland Safe injecting facilities Heroin assisted treatment People who use drugs Social exclusion Subterranean structuration
Background People who use drugs problematically are consistently left out of consultations and deliberation on drug policy. This article explores how people who formerly used drugs problematically and service providers view Ireland's current drug policy and if alternative policies could be successful in an Irish context. Methods Semi-structured interviews were conducted with eight people who used drugs problematically and six practitioners working with people who use drugs in Cork city, Ireland. All people who used drugs problematically had at least one year of abstinence and had been criminalised because of their drug use, all but one had served at least one custodial sentence. Participants were asked their opinions on safe injecting facilities, heroin assisted treatment, decriminalisation of drugs for personal use, depenalisation of cannabis and, the relationships between economic deprivation and problematic drug use. Results Respondents stressed that, in Cork city, problematic drug use is closely linked with economic deprivation and social exclusion. There was a near consensus that criminalisation and penalisation do not deter consumption and produce unintended consequences. All participants supported safe injecting facilities and the decriminalisation of drugs for personal use. Participants were less certain about the utility of heroin assisted treatment and depenalisation of cannabis. Many discussions drifted away from alternatives policies towards the need for improved treatment provision. Conclusion Several participants were clear that none of the alternative policies discussed are silver bullets. Participates felt that, while they could reduce the harms caused by drugs and drug policies, the government's longer-term objectives should be increased treatment provision and, reduced social exclusion and economic deprivation.
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