During a study at an MQI needle exchange, researchers found that half of heroin addicts shot up at least 6 times per week and two thirds of addicts were also using drugs like methadone, benzodiazepine tranquilisers, cannabis, alcohol, steroids and cocaine.
In an interview, Tony Geoghegan, MQI chief executive said, "The report confirms people are still using heroin, but polydrug use is now the dominant trend. This means detox services in Ireland have to match the need. In Ireland there are currently no detox options for this group."
Most of the current crop of detox centres focus on people addicted to a single drug. This makes them less effective for people with multiple addictions and often leaves people with only a partial solution to their drug problem.
Potentially more worrying is the fact that 27% of the 338 study participants admitted to sharing needles or other injecting equipment in the past month. This risky behaviour contributes to both the prevalence of HIV in and hepatitis in the injection drug community.
Around 8.33% of those surveyed said they had tested positive for HIV while around 45% said they tested positive for hepatitis C.
To help reduce these numbers, the researchers are suggesting an increase in needle exchanges and other harm reduction measures, an increase in the frequency of disease testing and more drug treatment programs.
If these measures are put into place, they could save lives and significantly reduce healthcare costs.
As current heroin users age, they are likely to need more and more medical treatment. Some of this is simply due to age and some treatments are necessary because of their lifetime of drug abuse. If these people are offered a more permanent solution to their addiction, it will probably save their lives and prevent them from becoming a long term and very costly financial burden of the state.