Increase in drug debt intimidation with isolated families struggling

Increase in drug debt intimidation with isolated families struggling

Gang intimidation due to drug debts has increased during lockdown according to a group who help families affected by drug addiction.

In addition, more families are becoming “isolated” with online forums failing to bridge the gap, a coordinator from the National Family Support Network said.

North East Region coordinator Gwen McKenna told this paper: “Gang intimidation has increased. We’re the only agency in the north-east that are working with An Garda on this drug intimidation, we provide a service where family members can talk formally or informally with a garda inspector and he will advise them on what they can do and how to take care of themselves.

“With the lockdown came the isolation, the groups couldn’t meet face to face so we adapted online but people were afraid to express the level of chaos they’re going through online because they didn’t feel safe and it’s not the same as sitting in a person’s physical presence. So they lost the art of being able to cope and they went back into isolation.”

She added that isolation is one of the biggest challenges for families that discover their loved one is struggling with addiction because of the “stigma that’s out there”.

Patron of the group, Bishop Michael Router, told this paper: “The Family Addiction Support Network work with the families to try and give them the skills that are necessary to work with their loved one who has an addiction problem and to overcome that fear, and to overcome the stigma that’s around it.

“The people that you’re dealing with may come from socially deprived areas and sometimes they don’t have the means to have online conversations or counselling or meetings or whatever they may be, they don’t feel that is totally secure also. They do prefer the face to face, that is always more effective. That is a major issue for groups who are trying to assist and help families.”