'Start low and go slow': HSE launches harm reduction campaign for drug users at festivals

ireland
'Start Low And Go Slow': Hse Launches Harm Reduction Campaign For Drug Users At Festivals 'Start Low And Go Slow': Hse Launches Harm Reduction Campaign For Drug Users At Festivals
There will be teams of HSE trained volunteers at a small number of festivals this year who will be available to talk about drug trends and harm-reduction practices with attendees. Photo: File image
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HSE teams will be sharing harm reduction advice to drug users at Irish festivals this year amid the emergence of "very worrying trends" across Europe.

According to the HSE, the new campaign will offer practical harm-reduction information, as well as advice on how to reduce the risks associated with drug use.

There will be teams of HSE trained volunteers at a small number of festivals this year who will be available to talk about drug trends and harm-reduction practices with attendees.

The volunteers are people working in existing harm reduction services, as well as people from the nightlife community.

The teams will also support people in cases of drug emergencies.

Nicki Killeen, volunteer trainer and emerging drug trends project manager, said the volunteer teams will offer "non-judgmental and confidential support".

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"They will operate between the festival community and medical teams to create a safe space for people who use drugs," Ms Killeen said.

“The teams will be at an information tent, as well as through outreach teams in campsites and music arenas.

“It is important that people don’t delay getting medical help at events.

“Sometimes overconsumption could start as a headache or muscle pain which people may not be aware of.

“Our new booklets will provide people who use drugs with information about drug emergencies, trends and practical steps to reduce the harms.”

Professor Eamon Keenan, from the HSE’s National Clinical Lead-Addiction Services, said as the 2022 festival season approaches, it is important to keep up to date in relation to drug trends across Europe.

“Although we have limited access to drug market monitoring In Ireland we are aware of the emergence of some very worrying trends across Europe,” Professor Keenan said.

“As well as high strength drugs appearing, as seen recently in the UK, we are currently concerned about the possibility of new psychoactive substances being mis-sold as MDMA pills or crystal, cocaine and cannabis.

“New drugs are continuing to emerge, and we must be aware of the risks they pose.

“Our advice remains that it’s safer not to use at all, however if you do, this summer festival season it’s important to ‘start very low and go slow' to reduce your risk of coming to harm.”

The first event the HSE harm reduction volunteers will be at is the Life festival in Co Westmeath this weekend.

They will also be attending the Indiependence festival in Co Cork and a third event later this summer.

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