Homelessness adding to addicts’ woes, says treatment centre

A group providing treatment for people suffering from drug and alcohol addiction has warned of the effect of homelessness on its clients and of its financial challenges in assisting them.

The Tabor Group operates at three locations — Tabor Lodge Residential Treatment Centre near Cork City, the Fellowship House Men’s Residence, and the Renewal Women’s Extended Treatment Centre — and its 2017 annual report found some differences among the client bases in the three services.

Of the 213 people who accessed treatment at Tabor Lodge, the main reasons for referral were alcohol (65%), followed by substance abuse (30%) and then gambling (5%). 

There were also 770 telephone referrals, with the majority of clients (448) self-referred and 281 referred by family members or other professionals. 

Of the 501 assessment appointments offered to clients, 469 were taken up, with 316 clients attending for assessment, 57 cancellations and 96 clients with appointments not showing up on the day.

The Fellowship centre admitted 49 clients. Cannabis was a feature in 90% of cases, with alcohol and ecstasy almost as common and polydrug use prevalent.

However, 63% of clients were homeless, a figure described in the report as “alarmingly high”. 

It said clients presenting with dual diagnosis was “an ongoing issue”, with 17% of clients in 2017 dealing with both an addiction and a mental health issue, while 74% of clients were under the age of 35 and unemployment among young men was at 92%. 

It also saw a 9% increase in the use of heroin.

The annual report noted: “The financing of treatment continues to pose challenges for some clients, particularly those seeking treatment for gambling, or eating disorders.

“The issue of homelessness featured strongly for clients in 2017. We met clients who had lost accommodation due to their inability to finance same; or clients who had been asked to leave family homes and were unable to secure alternative accommodation.

“This caused difficulties for clients, especially as they came to the end of a treatment programme, due to uncertainty and insecurity regarding where they were going, on leaving treatment. 

"This added to the normal anxiety associated with leaving residential treatment.”

It said the recovering economy had brought an increase in admissions: “The number of clients with private healthcare cover is increasing and more families are able to afford treatment”.

Aileen O’Neill, Tabor Group general manager, said in the report: “As has always been the case, accessing treatment for those who are reliant on State financial support, or low income, remains a difficulty at times. 

"Tabor Group works with each client on an individual basis and our services are heavily subsidised by State support through the HSE (including the Drug & Alcohol Task Forces), Probation Services and the local authorities.

“Despite the subsidies and client contributions, Tabor Group faces significant bad debts every year and therefore striking the balance between the organisation’s sustainability and charitable ethos is a constant challenge.”

Seven reported incidents in the area of ‘Violence and Aggression’ were recorded at the three centres in 2017 which was consistent with previous years.


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