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Six in ten people in Ireland have experience of addiction, new poll finds

Almost six in ten people in Ireland have direct experience of addiction, a new poll released today (Thursday 05.03.2020) has found.

The poll, commissioned by Merchants Quay Ireland to gain a snapshot of attitudes to addiction in Ireland, found that 59% of people said that they have direct experience of addiction, whether that be themselves, a family member, or a close friend.

Encouragingly, the poll also found that there is widespread support for addiction treatment, with 85% of respondents agreeing that drug users should have access to the treatment they require.

However, the poll also highlights the stigmatising attitudes faced by people who have overcome addiction and are in recovery:

  • 42% of respondents disagreed with the statement that “someone in recovery from addiction is as trustworthy as anyone else”, while only 22% agreed.
  • 53% of respondents disagreed with the statement “I have sympathy for people who inject drugs in public.
  • 21% of respondents agreed that people who are addicted to drugs only have themselves to blame

Ireland has the fourth highest rate of drug-related deaths in Europe and the number of cases of addiction treatment has risen significantly in recent years.

The poll was commissioned by Merchants Quay Ireland to mark the launch of ‘The Lived Experience of Addiction’, a new exhibition giving voice to people affected by addiction. The exhibition features photography by and stories from people in active addiction, people in recovery, and people whose family members have experienced addiction.

Commenting on the polling, Merchants Quay Ireland Chief Executive Paula Byrne said:

“Ireland needs to start talking, openly and honestly, about addiction. We need to create a society where people facing addiction know they’re not alone, and everyone feels safe enough to ask for help.”

“As this poll shows, the majority of people in Ireland have direct experience of addiction. In 2018, almost 800 people died from a drug-related cause, and last year, there were more than 10,000 drug treatment cases.

“Despite this, Ireland’s attitude to addiction has a long way to go. The stigma surrounding addiction is preventing people from seeking the support they need and making it hard for people in recovery to rebuild their lives.”

-ENDS-

For more information or to arrange an interview with a spokesperson, please contact:

Tom Sheppard
Communications Co-ordinator
Merchants Quay Ireland
T: 01 531 2958
M: 086 7793 206
E-mail: tom.sheppard@mqi.ie

Website: www.mqi.ie
Facebook: www.facebook.com/MerchantsQuayIR
Twitter: @MerchantsQuayIR

 

Notes to the Editor

About Merchants Quay Ireland
Merchants Quay Ireland is a leading Irish charity working with people who are homeless and in addiction. The organisation provides services ranging from open access crisis intervention and health promotion services to day-support programmes, educational programmes, residential treatment, detox and prison counselling. www.mqi.ie.

‘Lived Experience of Addiction’
‘The Lived Experience of Addiction’ is a photovoice project commissioned by Merchants Quay Ireland and undertaken by Dr Maria Quinlan and Patrick Bolger.

Working with MQI clients and family members affected by addiction, the project offered a space for those who have experience of addiction to safely and unapologetically share their stories and be heard.

The exhibition will run at the Copper House Gallery in Dublin 8. March 7th (11am-5.30pm) and March 9th-11th (9..30am-5.30pm). Entry is free.

More details are available here: https://mqi.ie/event/the-lived-experience-of-addiction-exhibition/

About the poll

The poll was carried out by Ireland Thinks, on behalf of Merchants Quay Ireland. 1,239 adults aged 18+  were polled online between February 10th and 21st 2020.

  • Have you ever taken an illegal drug?
    • 32% Yes, 61% No, 8% Would Rather Not Say
  • Do you have direct experience of a drug or alcohol addiction, whether it be with yourself, a family member, or a friend?
    • 59% Yes, 38% No, 3% would rather not say

Respondents were also asked whether they agreed with a series of statements:

  • “Society is too tolerant of people who use drugs”
    • 39% Agree, 24% Neither Agree Nor Disagree, 32% Disagree, 5% Don’t Know
  • “People who are addicted to drugs only have themselves to blame”
    • 21% Agree, 22% Neither Agree Nor Disagree, 52% Disagree, 5% Don’t Know
  • “I have sympathy for people who inject drugs in public”
    • 31% Agree, 12% Neither Agree Nor Disagree, 53% Disagree, 4% Don’t Know
  • “Someone in addiction is as trustworthy as anyone else”
    • 22% Agree, 26% Neither Agree nor Disagree, 42% Disagree, 10% Don’t Know
  • “All drug users should have access to the treatment they require”
    • 85% Agree, 5% Neither Agree nor Disagree, 6% Disagree, 3% Don’t Know
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