Prescription drug abuse 'on rise'
By Anne Lucey
Saturday October 04 2008
Ireland is set to follow United States addiction trends of growing use of sedatives, anti-depressants, and other "psycho-active drugs", an addiction expert has warned.
Dr Stanton Peele, author of the 1975 book 'Love and Addiction' said statistics showed a stubbornly growing use of prescription and pharmaceutical drugs among adults here.
A third of those who have ever used these medications continue to use them, a much higher ratio than with illegal drug use, he told a conference on drug and alcohol abuse.
Some 3pc of adults in Ireland reported recent use of tranquillisers, sedatives and anti-depressants; this was higher than for cannabis (2.6pc), according to the survey by the National Advisory Committee on Drugs in 2007.
Some 25pc of US youths are prescribed psycho-active medication for bi-polar disorder, attention deficit disorder and other conditions.
"We are most frightened about cocaine yet massive numbers of young people have been introduced to very powerful psycho-active medications," Dr Peele told the Getting a Grip conference in Killarney.
Ireland followed US trends and soon a majority of adults here would be "regularly seeking psycho-active medication".
"It's not the name of the drug that's important, it's how it dominates your life in a negative way," Dr Peele said.
Over emphasis on the negative side of alcohol was counter productive and would only cement the binge-drinking culture Ireland already had, he said. "If you fail to distinguish between pleasure and addiction, you are encouraging addiction -- the distinction is not whether people drink or don't drink, but whether people drink constructively or destructively."
Dr Desmond Corrigan, chair person of the National Advisory Committee, called for investment in more detoxification beds. Putting people with an addiction into psychiatric units or general hospitals and discharging them without back-up was "a waste of money".
- Anne Lucey