Prescription drug abuse is on the rise among drug users in Dublin’s north inner city.

The Ana Liffey Drug Project, which is spearheading a campaign aimed at raising awareness of the dangers of so-called street tablets, says it is becoming increasingly concerned. The ‘Do You Use Street Tablets’ campaign aims to inform users and project workers about the risks associated with taking street tablets. In other words, tablets which have been diverted from legal markets, fake tablets or home pressed tablets.

According to Tony Duffin, CEO of the Ana Liffey Drug Project, some drug users – who are also taking other drugs – are consuming trays of street tablets.

Client surveys conducted by the addiction treatment centre reveal that nearly half of all respondents reported use of unprescribed benzodiazepines (commonly known as benzos) such as Valium and Xanax in the last week; almost one in four reported use of unprescribed Z-drugs including Zopiclone and Zaleplon, which are used to treat insomnia; and 1 in 10 reported using unprescribed gabapentin – a painkiller designed to prevent seizures – in the last week.

“These days, if someone says they’ve taken some benzos that means they’ve taken a tray”, says Duffin. And that could mean taking 10 or more tablets at a time. Of more concern is the fact that people might not associate their intake of pills with increasing their overdose risk, he says.

There has been a significant number of drug-related deaths in Ireland associated with these drugs. Diazepam was implicated in almost one-third of all poisoning deaths between 2004 and 2015 in Ireland. Deaths related to the painkiller Pregabalin increased from 26 deaths in 2014 to 44 in 2015.

Change in drug habits

Drug use has changed in Dublin’s north inner city over the years. The uptake in street pills in the city can specifically be traced back to crop failure in the Middle East in 2011, which led to a heroin shortage. Drug users deprived of their usual fix increasingly turned to benzodiazepines instead, leading to a rise in addiction cases.

The aim of ‘Do You Use Street Tablets’ campaign is to tailor information so both the drug user and those working in addiction services are better informed about the risks they’re taking.

 “One of the things that we don’t want people to do is to suddenly stop taking street tablets, either”, says Duffin. “The withdrawal symptoms can be very, very dangerous and difficult.” For information on any of AlphaBiolabs’ drug-testing solutions – including our legal drug testing services that involve samples being collected under strict chain of custody conditions – please call 0140 29466 or email us at