Calls to solve issue of housing for drug addicts

Many recovering drug addicts relapse as they cannot access appropriate housing, a leading treatment service has said.

Coolmine, established in 1973, urged the Government to develop an “inter-agency approach” to housing to deal with the problem.

Chairman Alan Connolly said while 85% of its clients remain drug-free two years on, not everyone did.

“Many of those who relapse tend to be those who cannot find appropriate housing and end up either returning to a drug-addiction environment or to a difficult family situation or living rough,” he said.

Mr Connolly urged housing minister Simon Coveney to take into consideration the needs of those who successfully tackle their addictions when addressing housing problems.

Speaking at the launch of Coolmine’s 2015 annual report, he called on the minister to strongly consider an interagency approach to ensure long-term sustainability.

Simon Coveney
Simon Coveney

Coolmine, one of the country’s longest running specialist drug centres, supported 1,350 people last year across its community, day, and residential programmes, compared to 1,250 in 2014.

Coolmine’s annual report shows:

  • 81 women resided in Ashleigh House, the only mother and child facility in Ireland.
  • 24 children accessed full-time child care services at Ashleigh House.
  • 168 men resided in Coolmine Lodge.
  • 54 people were supported in the drug-free day programme in the city centre.
  • 49 people graduated from Coolmine.

The report said while heroin addiction was growing in Ireland, Coolmine continued to see the trend, and impact, of increased polydrug use, most notably involving benzodiazepines and alcohol, as well as mental health issues.

It said admissions to its residential services increased by 42% in 2015, due to increased capacity in its two existing residential services and new programmes, including the community alcohol treatment programme and the cannabis programme.

The alcohol programme in Blanchardstown, west Dublin, supported 51 individuals with primary problematic alcohol use during the year.

Amy Blake, acting chief executive, said that the cannabis/mental health programme supported clients to reduce or cease their problematic use, paralleled with increased focus on stabilising their mental health.

She said the team worked with 39 clients in three 12-week programmes from within existing resources in 2015.

“We also noted that 50% of all admissions to our male residential facility came directly from the Irish Prison Service,” said Ms Blake.

“In addition, we have seen a consistent demand, with over 100 prisoners nationally seeking addiction treatment in Coolmine Lodge.”

Coolmine initiated a parent under pressure programme for high-risk families in 2015.

Some 45 mothers staying at Ashleigh House engaged in it and beneficial results were observed.

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