Pregabalin – an anxiety, epilepsy and pain medication – has long been circulating on the black market as ‘Bud’, known as such due to the distinctive red and white capsules it is contained in.
In 2020/21 the Western Trust confirmed 14.1 per cent of all patients who presented with misuse issues in the Western Trust were addicted to pregabalin.
It is not the only pharmaceutical prescription medication wreaking terrible effects on some of our citizens.
For example, 23.9 per cent of people presenting with drug issues in the Western Trust had a problem with benzodiazepines, such as diazepam, powerful sedatives prescribed for anxiety and insomnia. Cannabis (75 per cent) and cocaine (52.9 per cent) may have accounted for more presentations but anyone with eyes visiting Derry city centre can see the physical effect powerful sedatives – often in combination with legal drugs like alcohol – are having on some of our sisters and brothers.
SDLP MLA Mark H. Durkan remarked how the ‘impact of addiction is frighteningly visible within Derry and on the streets of the city centre’ and called for urgent investment in support services.
Last year Derry police commander Nigel Goddard told the ‘Journal’ the abuse of prescription drugs in Derry was at a disproportionate level and reflected higher levels of vulnerability in the city need.
This scourge must be salved if we are to avoid the deaths of our loved ones.