“Behind every one of those houses is a person, and a family…”, one local drug worker said when speaking about the emergence of crack houses in Tallaght – which is estimated to be at around 100.
As reported in The Echo earlier this month, JADD [Jobstown Assisting Drug Dependency] identified 31 crack houses in the Jobstown area.
Further reports from the South Dublin County Partnership estimate that there are around 100 crack houses across the wider Tallaght area.
Drug projects are also reporting that people are being coerced into sex work to pay off crack cocaine debts.
While focus is placed on the statistics, local drug worker James Kelly of CARP (Community Addiction Response Programme) in Killinarden spoke of the very real impact crack cocaine is having on those living in our communities, and their families.
“Behind every one of those houses is a person, and a family dealing with a crack cocaine addiction,” James told The Echo.
“This is all about our community, our families, our brothers, our sisters.
“No one choses to take crack cocaine and destroy their lives.
“The women and men who come into us are devastated.
“Crack cocaine ravages a person…it ravages body and mind.
“It’s very hard to get off crack cocaine, especially in a community smothered in it…and every time you go to the shop, you’re being offered samples of it.”
CARP first administered crack cocaine pipes through a harm reduction programme introduced in Tallaght in June 2018.
According to statistics provided to The Echo, some 389 clients received crack cocaine pipes from CARP in 2019, a number which increased to 564 in 2020.
The most recent figures for this year show that from January to April 2021, some 278 clients have received crack cocaine pipes from CARP.
“We just don’t know how we’re meant to look after the people we are supposed to be looking after,” Mr Kelly said.
“Funding is a token gesture at the minute, we’re fighting fire with buckets of water.
“We’re saying this for years now, this is not going to stop, it will become more and more entrenched – it’s going to get worse.”
Mr Kelly stressed that when looking at ways to respond to the issue of crack cocaine, resources need to be invested in supporting the person with the addiction and their family.
CARP has been working alongside WASP Family Support in Rathfarnham on the provision of holistic supports to Tallaght families, which includes one-to-one support, family therapy and counselling.
Supports also include a kinship programme, which focuses on the role of grandparents where difficulties arise relating to care of children.
Services also include supporting and guiding family members impacted by intimidation.
“It’s detrimental that we have family support services in Tallaght,” Mr Kelly said.
CARP also runs a female crack support group, which incorporates evidence-based approaches and non-judgemental engagement.
The support group, for example, provides holistic sessions, access to primary health care and food hampers.
According to CARP, around 90 per cent of participants on its women’s crack support group are current or previous heroin users.
CARP is one example of how projects working on the ground in Tallaght communities are responding, supporting and providing the best care they can within limited and stretched budgets.
These projects know what their communities need and what programmes can work.
They have been compiling evidence on the emergence of crack cocaine and its implications on the individual, the family and the wider community for a number of years – yet still, no dedicated funding.
According to Grace Hill, co-ordinator of the Tallaght Drugs and Alcohol Task Force, crack cocaine is a ‘public health crisis’ – set against a backdrop of no additional task force funding in 13 years.
“It’s so easy to get crack cocaine at the moment, methadone users are approached leaving clinics, samples are being given out…
“Crack cocaine is an all-consuming drug and is particularly concerning when children are living in the house.
“However, funding is no-where near sufficient, and projects are at capacity.
“The task force gives JADD and CARP €25,000 each [to support crack cocaine programmes], it helps to keep them going but it’s piecemeal.
“We’ve been raising the issue, but nothing is changing, there’s no political will.”
Anybody in need of support can contact CARP on 01 4626033 or visit www.carp.ie.