This petition was launched by Grace Dyas and Rachael Keogh on Friday 28th March at Project Arts Centre as part of ADDICTION - A Public Conversation Event.
As part of her talk ADDICTS AREN'T OTHER PEOPLE - Rachael was asked what she thought needed to happen now in terms of the drug problem in Ireland...
WHAT NEEDS TO CHANGE NOW
We need to fundamentally shift how we view drugs and dug users.
Is drug addiction a choice?
Wholesale incarceration of drug addicts has failed to solve the drug problem. Is prison a deterrent or just a revolving door system?
Massive sums of money are being invested in keeping people in jail which could be redirected to the other pillars of the national drug strategy that are far more likely to produce positive results.
The Rehabilitation pillar : we still only have 27 detox beds
for an estimated 16,000 drug addicts. Access to drug
services is limited and subject to enormous waiting lists.
Often the window of opportunity for change is brief, and
barriers to access change limit this even further.
Building more rehabs and less prisons would be a sound
economic investment in the future of our young people.
The Prevention pillar : Inequality and poverty bread drug
addiction. It is no coincidence that the vast majority of our
addicts and our prisoners come from socially excluded,
marginalised communities where early school leaving,
unemployment and drug use are the norm not the
We need to invest in those communities who are worst hit
by the drug epidemic. To tackle the structural inequality
that has become apart of everyday life in Ireland. Offering
education, training, amenities, opportunity , jobs, social
mobility and life choices.
Hope for a brighter, fairer, more equal Ireland.
THE NATIONWIDE PETITION
To decriminalise the possession of small quantities of drugs
and replace with an individually focused system which
aims to rehabilitate rather than punish.
Addiction is not simply an individual moral or criminal issue, it is a social, political and economic issue. At present our primary intervention is long term methadone maintenance. With approximately 9996 methadone users to a mere 297 GP’S involved in administering it.
Regulation and criminalisation is clearly not working, it is simply pushing the drug problem further underground and resulting in our Government failing to recognise the true nature of the problem. And until we begin to tackle those structures within our society which reproduce generation after generation of drug addicts in our communities it is here to stay.
Little has changed since Dr John Bradshaw first investigated the Heroin epidemic. The ‘social sickness’ that he identified as being the root cause of the problem is still here. We have placed band aid after band aid on a gaping wound.
Therefore I propose a nationwide petition that will inform motivate and mobilise those who have a real interest in addressing the drug problem.
My aim is to gather enough signatures for change. That will take the addicts from the grasp of the criminal justice system and place them under the umbrella of the health care system. We should follow the lead of countries like Portugal who have had profound success by implementing decriminalisation policies.
Join me today and make one small step by signing my petition towards getting our government to open their eyes to the vibrant, intelligent and talented young people who are being lost through drug addiction within our penal and medical system simply because the system is flawed.
Rachael Keogh, as part of ADDICTION, a public conversation event by THEATREclub and Depaul Ireland.