Tree planting to remember 67 people who died from drug abuse
The Cornmarket Project which helps people overcome drugs and alcohol addiction, marked its 20th anniversary by planting a tree in memory of the 67 clients who have died from substance misuse in Wexford during that time.
A large group of people gathered in the Spawell Road garden of the Project for the anniversary ceremony which took place during the organisation's annual barbecue.
More than 5,000 individuals have sought support from the service during the past two decades and an estimated 87% of those managed to successfully reclaim their lives from drug and alcohol dependency.
Tragically, a total of 67 clients of the Cornmarket services lost their lives to substance misuse and they were remembered during the anniversary celebration.
A 'tree of remembrance' in memory of those who have died, was planted in the Cornmarket garden by the Mayor of Wexford, George Lawlor who said this year's barbecue was tinged with sadness as they remembered all those who did not make it out of their struggle with drugs and alcohol.
'But we should also look upon the remembrance tree as a tree of hope', he said.
Paying tribute to the work of the Cornmarket Project, he said it has delivered a vital service in the county over the past 20 years, saving lives and bringing health, happiness and hope back to many families whose lives were blighted by the effects of addiction.
'A great strength of Cornmarket is that it is firmly rooted in the community', he said.
thw Mayor added that no-one knows when they may need the service as addiction doesn't discriminate and can affect all social categories.
Brian Kehoe, the CEO of Wexford Local Development which is the Cornmarket parent body, read out a poignant poem as part of the commemmoration ceremony, with a strong message that there is hope for those suffering from addiction and said the doors of the Cornmarket Project will always be open to them.
Afterwards, Project Co-Ordinator Paul Delaney said there have been many changes in the drug-using landscape since he started working in Wexford twenty years ago.
In 1999, the first year of operation, the service dealt with 37 people who sought support in getting their lives back on track. This year, Cornmarket teams around the county will help over 450 people.
'Our biggest challenge now is the emergency of a whole new category of drugs, the so-called new psychoactive substances, that are a range of chemicals and compounds that are causing havoc, particularly with a younger cohort of drug users', said Brian.
'We have already seen serious damage to the health and well-being of young people throughout County Wexford who are using such drugs and the situation is likely to get worse as new variants of these types of drugs become available', he warned.
Mr. Delaney said that based on anecdotal evidence, the service is becoming aware of a link between such drug use and the resurgence of cocaine use throughout County Wexford and this presents a particular challenge to the services.