‘More people are taking drugs with their parents than with their friends’

By Mary Dennehy

A UNIQUE body of research is being carried out in Jobstown which seeks to identify the need for up-to-date and relevant information on drugs and addiction – and how to best get that information into local homes.

Initiated by JADD [Jobstown Assisting Drug Depency], the independent research is being shaped by the community – with focus groups recently taking place with parents, elected representatives and community leaders.

Jobstown Park 01

The research is being carried out in the Jobstown area

Centered around education and early prevention, the research also has a focus on intergenerational drug use – with one participant in the focus group claiming that “more people are taking drugs with their parents than with their friends”.

Speaking with The Echo, Shane Hamilton, Team Leader at JADD, said that the aim of the research is to discover what information is out there, what is missing and what is the best possible way of getting this information to parents and into homes.

“We held focus groups with different pockets of the community to find out what their current understanding of the drug issues within their community are,” Mr Hamilton said.

“The [drug] landscape is changing and there is a alot of polydrug use.

“There is a perception that people have all the information and are aware of local drug services, but that is not the experience on the ground.

“There is an abundance of information but it’s left on the desks of services.

“How do we get that information out there? How do we make it easily digestible?”

Getting a coversation started on local drug use and trends is also at the core of the project, with a focus on educating families on drug and alcohol use within the home.

“It’s important to get conversations happening at home about, for example, medicines like prescription drugs,” Mr Hamilton said.

“Mam is stressed so she takes a valium but there needs to be a conversation that this is medical intervention, and is not the norm for everyone in the house.”

While the parents who engaged in the focus groups said they were happy in their area and thought there was good community spirit, they believed that the environment in Jobstown has “worsened” over the past five years.

Some of the issues raised include, anti-social behaviour, emergence of gangs, the acceptance of drug taking, the intergenerational nature of drug use and young people not fighting with their fists anymore, but knives.

The community leaders also raised concerns over the level of drug use and abuse within communities.

Feeling that the county council were creating a ghetto

When discussing drugs and Jobstown, the conversation, according to research findings, “repeatedly turned to the systemic issues of lack of resources, continuous building of new houses without supplementary resources and a feeling that the county council were creating a ghetto”.

The findings of the focus group also discovered that a broad parent response in relation to drugs and drug issues within the community was to ‘be aware but not to confront’, in an attempt to keep these issues from their own doorstep.

Now JADD is exploring if people want or need information on drugs, drug use and drug services within their communities, and, if so, how would they like to receive this information.

“We’re trying to figure out how best to meet the community needs in terms of drug education...and if people are open to receiving information,” Mr Hamilton said.

“We are trying to understand what the community wants and respond effectively.”

Following the focus groups, it has been decided to “road test” the concept of a communications strategy, with the idea now being piloted to 100 houses in the area.

If a communications project is to go ahead, it will be owned by the community and according to Mr Hamilton: “It will not be a JADD project, it will be a community project for everyone who wants to be involved.”

For further details on JADD and other local drug projects in Tallaght, visit the Tallaght Drugs and Alcohol Task Force website on www.tallaghtdatf.ie or call 4649303.

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