Drug users face 3-month wait to access treatment

DRUG users who want to quit their habit are being forced to wait up to three months before they can access residential treatment at one of the country’s best known treatment centres.

To minimise the risk of addicts’ resolve lapsing, Coolmine Therapeutic Centre in Blanchardstown have established day programmes in communities around Dublin to help addicts to “stabilise” after they have been assessed and accepted for treatment. The demand for beds has led to greater problems outside Dublin, however, with smaller treatment centres like Arbour House in Cork also being forced to do “preparatory work” with users as southern addicts wait months to travel to Dublin.

Up to 40% of people attending Coolmine are from outside Dublin – a reflection of the growing abuse of cocaine and heroin in towns and cities outside the capital.

“While heroin use in Dublin has levelled off, drug use in the capital city has generally become more complex and Coolmine is adapting to meet the needs of new clients who – in addition to heroin use – also use a mix of cannabis, cocaine, alcohol and prescription drugs,” said a spokesman for the organisation.

Management at Coolmine say that users accessing services via the prison services face the longest delays in accessing beds while other users generally face waits of up to eight weeks.

It’s understood that the new National Drugs Strategy, which will be launched next week, will show waiting lists of up to a year in four of the country’s treatment centres, while five more have waiting lists of three to 12 months.

In 17 of the country’s 24 services, centres can accommodate addicts within three months. The new strategy aims for users to access treatment within a month of assessment.

Coolmine Therapeutic Community will today launch its second Strategic Plan – Supporting People in Changing Times.

In recent years, the HSE-funded organisation has widely expanded its care model to include support for the children of drug users, halfway housing for people after treatment and has also introduced educational and housing programmes for former addicts.


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