A new Irish chapter of the International Nurses Society on Addictions (IntNSA) has opened in Ireland — the first such group outside of the United States.
The body has been set up to offer a forum for nurses who work in the area of addiction to meet and exchange ideas.
The Irish chapter already includes staff from the HSE, the Irish Prison Service, and the Simon Community on its board.
It is planned that over time the Irish chapter will become part of a global network of nurses who work in the area of addiction around the world.
The chairman of the new Irish chapter of IntNSA, Peter Kelly, said the body would now seek to attract new members so as to open up the discussion on various elements of how addiction is treated in Ireland.
“We are a very new organisation and as such, we do not have position statements on specific issues,” he said.
“Principally, what we would like to do is to create a place where nurses who are interested in addiction treatment can meet to discuss issues and get support. It is not a union — it is a professional association.”
He said at present there were no plans to seek a meeting with Drugs Minister Aodhán Ó’Ríordáin but Mr Kelly said the issue could be discussed by the board of the chapter.
The group was already operating an informal network in Ireland, which has 60 members.
It is planned to hold an open meeting in October as part of the establishment of the Irish chapter, with discussion on issues such as methods of harm minimisation and treatment options.
The IntNSA mission statement is: “To advance excellence in nursing care for the prevention and treatment of addictions for diverse populations across all practice settings through advocacy, collaboration, education, research, and policy development.”
The issue of treatment has come to the fore in recent months with growing calls for supervised injection rooms and a renewed focus on how countries such as Portugal have dealt with their drugs problem.