Alcohol is issue for most at addiction centre

More than 60% of the clients who attended an addiction treatment centre last year are holding down full-time jobs.

Of those who attend programmes at the centre, alcohol is still the number one drug for the majority and is abused in combination with other substances by other clients.

New figures compiled by Talbot Grove in Castleisland, Co. Kerry, reveal that over half of all clients are referred by either a family member or friend and not a medical professional.

Over 38% of people sought help on their own behalf and only 8% were referred by the Health Service Executive (HSE).

The statistics also reveal that 27% had a third-level qualification and almost 70% had sat the Leaving Certificate.

The centre is also dealing with more women seeking help for addiction problems and this usually relates to alcohol abuse in the home.

Independent senator Frances Black is a former client and sought help for her addiction issues at the Kerry centre.

The age profile of clients is also startling as six in ten are over the age of 40.

Con Cremin has been the director of Talbot Grove since 1996.

He says the statistics are reflective of Talbot Grove’s rural base and the profile of their clients would differ from an addiction treatment centre in an urban area.

“Alcohol abuse is still the main issue for about three-quarters of the people who come here and it’s either them or their family makes the first phone call to us and not a doctor or other medical professional,” he said.

“What’s also significant, though not surprising, is that 85% of the people who came in here last year completed the residential course.”

Talbot Grove was founded by a voluntary group in 1993 and deals with adult clients mainly from a rural hinterland in Kerry, Cork and Limerick, who complete a 30-day residential programme followed by a further two years of continuous care.

Of the 15% who didn’t stay the course, most would have left against staff advice, two people were asked to leave and one had to be medically discharged.

Mr Cremin clarified that of those who left against staff advice, most felt after 10 days they had done enough and could handle the rest of their recovery themselves.

“The more rural people are in their geography, the more self-sufficient and self-reliant they are.

“So very often, they will seek help in crisis but once the crisis subsides, they will generally try to sort it out on their own,” he said, adding that this was particularly true of peninsular people.

Last year, the centre dealt with 137 clients, including 86 men and 51 women.

Forty-two of these were over the age of 50 and only 11 were aged between 18 and 24.

Alcohol was the main problem substance for 105 or 77% of clients. Cannabis use was a factor 8% and cocaine, opiates and benzodiazepines effected 5, 4% and 2%, respectively.

Addictions to gambling, spending, gaming, porn or sex were the main issues for 6% of clients.

Apart from the 137 people who sought treatment, the centre also offered support to 371 family members or significant others.

Talbot Grove can cater for up to 12 people at a time, who are accommodated in its five twin or treble bedrooms.

It occupies the former presbytery on the outskirts of the town and is largely self-funding but also receives some support from the HSE.

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