Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, an Irish Labour Party politician, made a controversial announcement about the upcoming use of "injection rooms" in Ireland.
Ó Ríordáin said this week that Dublin will be adopting a new policy intended to give users a clean and safe environment where they can use drugs under the supervision and care of medical professionals. Ideally, when the users are present, they can be talked into entering rehabilitation facilities.
The move is part of a shift in public consciousness about drug use, aiming for more compassion and rehabilitation while eliminating criminalization. They hope to have the rooms up and running by next year.
"I am firmly of the view that there needs to be a cultural shift in how we regard substance misuse if we are to break this cycle and make a serious attempt to tackle drug and alcohol addiction," Ó Ríordáin told the Irish Times.
Ó Ríordáin, who supervises the National Drug Strategy, said he expects Cork, Galway and Limerick to follow in Dublin's footsteps. The minister is also set to unveil his plan for decriminalizing small-time drug possession of heroin, cocaine and cannabis. That announcement comes just weeks after the leaked U.N. report that laid out a plan for decriminalizing drug use across the globe.
"Research has shown that the use of supervised injecting centers is associated with self-reported reductions in injecting risk behaviors," Ó Ríordáin added.
On top of that, stopping the arrests of drug users should eliminate the stigma and exile of addicts. Here in America, President Obama is working to address discrimination of ex-convicts by barring potential employers from inquiring about their criminal history in early rounds of an interview. That move came after the Justice Department reported that 60 to 75 percent of former inmates are unable to find a job in their first year out of prison.
Ó Ríordáin acknowledged that treatment needs to be nuanced.
"Every city is different, every drug-using population is different, so different locations will have different needs," he said.
Cover image via Labour Youth.