Browne slams ‘political failure’ to tackle drugs

The failure of successive governments to deal with pockets of deprivation has resulted in the ‘monster of criminalisation of drug users,’ it has been claimed at the launch of a degree in applied addiction studies in Athlone.             The remarks were made by journalist and broadcaster, Vincent Browne, who was the keynote speaker at the function. ‘Very little has been done to fund deprived areas,’ he said, and there had been a failure to acknowledge the devastation of individuals and families that has resulted.             Ireland suffers from a massive problem with alcohol, Mr Browne continued, with 24 percent of Irish males exhibiting risky drinking behaviour. There was clear evidence, he stated, ‘that increasing the price of alcohol reduces consumption, yet the Government won’t take action.’ He also questioned the close association of sports organisations and drinks companies, citing the Guinness All Ireland hurling championship and the Heineken Cup in rugby.             Director of AIT, Prof. Ciarán Ó Catháin, drew a parallel with the current ‘frenzy of policy documents and manifestoes of various hues,’ saying ‘it is fitting we should lay out a roadmap for how those suffering from addiction will be treated.’ The new degree, which was developed by AIT and the Addiction Training Institute, will hopefully make Ireland a better place for us all to live in, he stated.             The BA in Applied Addiction Studies is in response to challenges faced by a wide variety of professionals in trying to support and respond appropriately to issues of addiction. These professionals include primary addiction workers and increasingly, education professionals, health care professionals and community care workers. It will be offered on a part-time basis over three years.             John Crimmins, CEO of the Addiction Training Institute, commented that one dimensional treatment options are no longer an option on their own. We have moved from the days, he said, when our main problem was the alcoholic who was put into a treatment centre or psychiatric unit and either came out and stayed on the dry or relapsed. More and more different forms of substance, heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, hash, prescribed pills, binge drinking, and other addictions such as food, sex and the internet are manifesting at an alarming rate, he stated.             The launch in Athlone Institute of Technology was also attended by former international footballer, Paul McGrath. In his speech, Mr. Crimmins, cited the football icon as a prime example that relapse is not a failure or end of the road but a natural part of the addiction cycle. Loudly applauded by the large gathering present, Mr McGrath was also presented with a framed jersey of AIT’s soccer team.             Anyone interested in obtaining further information about the degree should contact the Department of Adult and Continuing Education, AIT, or refer to the ATI website: www.addiction.ie.