The HSE only funds a total of 30 public residential rehabilitation beds in Cherry Orchard Hospital and the Beaumont Hospital while the country’s heroin problem spirals out of control, according to Merchants Quay Ireland.
Director of the group, which works with heroin addicts battling to get off drugs, Tony Geoghegan, said the lack of residential detox beds shows the HSE’s lack of interest in tackling the issue.
Mr Geoghegan said: “During a detox programme, people find it very difficult near the end — for the final push to get drug-free they really need a residential facility. The HSE’s policy is maintenance on methadone as it is cheaper than intervention and supporting a drug-free rehabilitation.
“To supply residential detox programmes and beds more resources are needed. Methadone is a cheaper option for the Government. People can buy a detox bed in a private hospital but that costs a lot of money to get treatment, which most people most certainly can not afford.”
Mr Geoghegan said that while all the beds are provided in Dublin, the heroin problem is now worse in the south-east of the country as people struggle to access treatment services.
“There are a lot of people desperate to get off drugs but there simply are not the public beds available. Also all the public beds are in Dublin, but the biggest heroin problem is not in the capital anymore but in the midlands and the south-east region.
“The majority of people coming to us looking for help are from Carlow, Wexford, Waterford, Kilkenny, Portlaoise and Athlone.
“It is in these counties that the heroin problem has increased in recent years and the services and facilities to deal with the issues are not available,” he said.
Merchants Quay Ireland will open a new 10-bed detox unit at St Francis Farm in Tullow, Co Carlow, next month in a bid to provide much-needed help for people trying to get off drugs.
Mr Geoghegan said: “The 10-bed unit will make a massive difference in helping people detoxing.
“We will be providing a whole medical team to work in the facility and will take referrals from everywhere,” he added.