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The reality of the drug epidemic in Ireland and the Irish Republic is very different to the reality of Europe.
But that is not to say that Ireland is immune to the scourge of addiction.
There are those who would like to believe that it is the only place where addiction is so prevalent.
They claim that Ireland’s drug problem is a “mixed bag” where addiction affects only one side of the spectrum and that it can be overcome by working together to get people to stop using drugs.
This is rubbish, says Dr Stephen O’Connor, a clinical professor of addiction at the University of Limerick.
He says addiction is not an all-or-nothing phenomenon.
In fact, addiction can occur in any of the following contexts:The availability of drugs is increasing.
People are accessing more and more drugs, with increasing potency and frequency.
A wider range of people are using the drug, including young people and those with other drug use problems.
The number of users is increasing, and those users are getting younger.
It’s not the case that all of these conditions are the same.
The fact that there is a spectrum of drug use is a key difference between Europe and Ireland.
Dr O’Connor says that the drug crisis has become a national crisis in Ireland.
He believes that in Ireland, drugs are used in an “unbalanced” manner.
“The drugs that we know about in Europe are for sale to people who can pay for them.
In Ireland they’re for sale for free,” he says.
Drug abuse is more prevalent in urban areas than in rural areas.
The use of drugs in Ireland has increased by almost 20 per cent in the last 10 years, but the rate of increases has not been as high in rural communities.
This could be partly because of changes in drug policy in Ireland in the years since the drug policy reform programme was introduced in 2012.
Dr Robert MacLeod, a professor of psychology at the Mayo Clinic in Ireland who specializes in the psychology of addiction, says that drug use in Ireland is often associated with a certain social status.
“When drugs are available, it’s because people want to use them,” he explains.
“We can’t just say that the more people we see using drugs, the more likely they are to have a problem.”
The main factor in the high rates of drug abuse is that people are unable to access the drugs that they need, such as alcohol, which are available for free in the shops and in pubs.
“There are also a number of factors, including social class, that play a role in drug use,” Dr MacLeod says.
He adds that there are two main factors that contribute to the high rate of drug misuse in Ireland:A lack of affordable treatment, and “unfair competition” between drugs suppliers.
In the United States, the opioid epidemic has been the most widely reported cause of drug overdoses.
In Europe, it is alcohol, the most common drug used by people who are addicted to alcohol, that is most often linked to addiction.
“In Europe we’re in the minority in the world.
In the United Kingdom and the United Sates, there is no real evidence of alcohol being the main cause of overdose,” Dr O’Connell says.
In Ireland, the drug problem has its roots in the economic recession that took place in the early 1990s.
In 2007, the then-minister of health, Frances Fitzgerald, introduced a series of reforms, including decriminalising possession of less than one gram of cannabis, and introducing the use of prescription painkillers.
However, these measures were only implemented by the end of 2008.
In 2010, the government introduced a package of reforms to tackle the issue of illicit drug use, including increased penalties for the possession of large amounts of cocaine and heroin, a ban on the sale of cannabis for personal use, and the introduction of a “no-holds-barred” approach to the supply of illicit drugs.
A series of drug policy reforms was introduced, including the decriminalisation of the possession and use of small amounts of cannabis.
In July 2013, the Government introduced new legislation that would see the supply and sale of a single gram of cocaine decriminalised.
However the new law did not address the issue that Ireland has one of the highest rates of illicit use in the European Union.
“Ireland has one the highest drug use rates in the EU, but our drugs laws haven’t been fully reformed,” Dr McDonagh says.
A lack on the part of the Government to implement any of these new laws, combined with a lack of a proper drug strategy, has led to a rise in drug abuse in Ireland that is still at a high level of prevalence.
The Irish National Drug Strategy, which was implemented by Dr Fitzgerald in 2011, aims to reduce the prevalence of drug-related problems, and has not yet been fully implemented.
The strategy has been criticised for failing to address the problem of alcohol misuse,