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Needle exchange figures are a source of concern

15 September, 2004

Sinn Féin health spokesperson, John O'Dowd MLA, as said that the increase in figures of those accessing the needle and syringe exchange scheme reflect the growing drug culture within our society.

Mr O'Dowd said:

"Without a doubt, this scheme is having some positive impact in relation to preventing the misuse and sharing of needles and syringes by those dependent upon drugs. Indeed, I would like to see the scheme extended beyond the nine pharmacies, which presently participate in the scheme.

"However, it is clear that the availability of hard drugs is becoming increasingly widespread across the North and that proper and effective preventative and anti-drugs awareness policies need to be put in place, with a special focus directed towards the young male population. The latest figures show that four out of every five persons using the scheme are males, of whom over half are aged 30 and under.

"Right across the North, illicit drug use is recognised as one of the growing problems which we face. People cannot afford to be complacent about this increasing scourge within our midst." ENDS

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