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What is drug dependency and how to get help

Updated: Apr 23, 2020

Dependence on drugs occur when you need to take drugs in order to function and go about your day to day life.

Dependence on drugs occur when you need to take drugs in order to function and go about your day to day life.

It is interesting to know that ‘drug addiction’ and ‘drug dependence’ are two different concepts. People often use both incorrectly.

Addiction may involve:

  • Using drugs despite consequences

  • Being unable to quit drug taking

  • Overlooking work and social responsibilities and commitments.

Dependency may involve:

  • Some or all symptoms of addiction

  • Physical symptoms when you try to give up taking drugs

  • Body adapting to drugs you take making you reach out for higher doses to achieve same ‘high’

Physical signs of dependency:

  • Severe weight loss or weight gain

  • Erratic sleep patterns

  • Having the shakes when you attempt to abstain from taking the drug.

  • Sweating, vomiting, being nauseous, nightmares, muscle weakness, anxiety and depression

Treatments available for some who is dependent on drugs:

  • Counselling – Speaking with a trained mental health professional who will help you overcome the problem.

  • Medication – You may be given other substitute drugs to help you reduce your drug use a small amount and eventually lead to you to stop taking drugs altogether. For example, if you take heroin you may be given the substitute drug methadone.

  • Hospital, rehab or clinical treatment – Ask your GP about your local clinic or rehab centre that may be suited you. You may find it difficult giving up drugs when you are still living at home.

It is important to seek continuing support when your treatment is over. Many people need this guidance and support to ensure that they do not slip back to the old ways again.



If you feel that your drug use is affecting your mental health know that there are many support options available to you.

Seek advice from your local GP who will talk you through your options to help get you the support and guidance you need. Below are some local and national services available to you.


The HSE Substance Misuse Team operates under the Social Inclusion Department of the HSE. In Wexford the Team consists of a Co-ordinator, two Addiction Counsellors and one Liaison Nurse. This team offers counselling and detox services. Team members can also access residential services in the Aisling Centre for those requiring this service. The team manages a Needle Exchange service throughout the county. It liaises closely with the FDYS Community Based Drugs Initiative workers and Family Support Services. Referrals are also made to CAMHS, the Tusla, Child Protection Social Work Department and the Cornmarket Project.


FDYS Community Based Drugs Initiative - Francis Street, Wexford, Co Wexford - 053-9123262

Youth project providing targeted and universal services to young people and their families.

Contact Persons Ann Lacey & John Paul O’Neill (CBDI Project Workers)

Referrals Referrals can be made in person, by families, HSE, Schools, agencies or any group or person can phone and make an appointment.

Eligibility Criteria All ages in County Wexford


The Corn Market Project, Block A, Spawell Road, Wexford, Co Wexford - 053-9155817

Addiction Support Service, Counselling, Family Support, Juvenile Justice, Training and Employment.

Contact Person Paul Delaney (Project Co-ord) / Paul O Brien (Services Manager).

Target Age Group All Services : 18 years and over 1-to-1 / Counselling : Under 18’s

Eligibility Criteria Medium to High Risk. Statutory Agency/voluntary agency referrals i.e. Probation Service / HSE / DSP / Gardai. Also GP and Solicitors. Family and Self-Referral.


The Mens Hostel, Ozanam House, St. Vincent de Paul, Thomas Street, Wexford, Co Wexford 05391-21440

Voluntary service providing support for homeless men aged 18 years upwards.

Target Age Group Homeless men aged 18 years and older. Eligibility Criteria Men experiencing homelessness or at risk, eviction, drug addiction, alcohol addiction etc. Referrals Self-referrals, Community Welfare Officer, other statutory agencies.


Narcotics Anonymous Ireland - Meeting in Gorey 7.30pm - 9pm Church of Ireland

Charlotte Row, Gorey, Church Centre. For more information click here.


Other Services:

  • Online information and support for drug and alcohol use. Includes a national directory of drug and alcohol services

  • HSE Drugs, Alcohol, HIV and Sexual Health Helpline: Freephone 1800 459 459.

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