Is denial the biggest problem?

Jon Brier, chairman of the Longford Drugs Forum (LDF), agrees that Longford has a serious drug problem but denies that the problem is greater than that of other towns.

Jon Brier, chairman of the Longford Drugs Forum (LDF), agrees that Longford has a serious drug problem but denies that the problem is greater than that of other towns.

“Longford isn’t different to other towns. I know for a fact that Athlone would have a bigger problem,” said Jon who has lived in Longford for five years.

Looking at the work of the Longford (LDF), which is a completely voluntary body, Jon added: “There is a limit to what we can do. We are about education and I think we have been successful. We are limited in terms of money and due to the recession we have dwindling funds. I feel though that we’ve done the best we can.

“Today we have a lot more access to treatments than we had a few years ago. There are two doctors now who can prescribe methadone in the county. That’s significant when you consider there’s not one single doctor in Mullingar doing this.”

The Leader also spoke to recovering addict John who believes Longford authorities and the community in general are in denial about the local drugs problem.

“I’ve had people from Sligo, Dublin, Limerick and other places say to me that Longford is known for drugs,” he said. “People say ‘it’s no worse than any other town’ – that’s pure denial. People are not seeing what is going on here.” Brian agrees: “It’s horrific in Longford and yes it is worse than other towns. It’s a gateway for drugs.”

Indisputably the situation has intensified over the last ten years, and according to John if it continues at the same pace into the next ten years, the town faces a harsh reality.

“As it gets worse, the mayhem gets worse. Suicides, overdoses, Aids, HIV. Look what happened in Dublin?”