Two 'life or death' drug outreach teams in Dublin will have to close their doors unless funding is provided for their services.
The Jobstown Assisting Drug Dependency (JADD) and the Killinardan Project, both based in Tallaght, are trying to tackle a 'tsunami' of crack cocaine in the area.
The Tallaght Drugs and Alcohol Task Force (TDATF) has warned that both services may soon have to stop operating – with cash reserves set to dry up on New Year’s Eve.
TDATF Co-ordinator Grace Hill said the teams are doing work no other services is capable of.
“They are going to people where they are at,” she said. “They are providing hot meals; they are providing clean equipment to help reduce infection; giving people information on how to use safely and then they are signposting them back into other services.”
The group meets with victims of the crack cocaine epidemic in the area and supports them with basics like clean equipment, food, warmth and support.
Ms Hill said at €190,000 in Government funding is needed to keep the life-saving operations going.
She said the groups are also the only way to keep track of who is using crack in the area.
“The fear would be that there is more risk of infection and there is more blood-borne viruses then in the community,” she said.
“People will be using unsafely, people will be going hungry and people just won’t have that support.
“The big thing is, in terms of data, this is basically the method we have for data collection. At the moment, us giving out craic pipes – that is how we are recording how many people are using craic.”
She said many users will not engage with any services unless they are ready to knock on the door.
“They aren’t engaged with any services – none at all – which is really, I suppose, frightening for us as a taskforce,” she said.
“We have such excellent community drug projects in the areas but … because of the chaos in their addiction they aren’t able to present to the services so we know we need to go out and meet them.”
Ms Hill said the TDATF services are “literally a lifeline” for people struggling with serious addictions.
“There is no other organisation providing this round of services – and in all weather, Storm Barra, they are out there trying to do this literally on very little funding,” she said.
“I think the Minister for Justice talked about funding some pilot projects in the New Year, but we are way beyond pilot now. We have been responding to the crack issue in Tallaght since 2018.”
Before Christmas, the Minister of State with responsibility for Drug Strategy Frank Feighan announced €2m for drug and alcohol services around the country.
The TDATF is calling for targeted funding to address the crack epidemic in west Dublin.
Additional reporting from Michael Staines