Rise in referrals for alcohol addiction

MORE people with chronic alcohol addiction are being referred to Cork-based treatment services, with experts claiming one factor could be the role of alcohol in the Roscommon abuse case.

Representatives of Tabor Lodge, a treatment centre in Co Cork, told an Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children yesterday that the number of referrals by social services to its centre had grown in recent years.

The committee also heard that attendance by Tabor Lodge clients at a step-down facility, Fellowship House, was being jeopardised as the Department of Social Protection has withdrawn a €19-a-night discretionary payment.

Of the 239 referrals made to Tabor Lodge last year, 181 involved alcohol.

Mick Devine, clinical director of Tabor Lodge, quoted from the inquiry report into the Roscommon case, in particular the parents’ “preoccupation with alcohol [which] clearly affected their parenting capacity [and] was manifested by the children often being left alone when the parents were in the pub and the older children having to fulfil adult roles.

“This abysmal scenario is reported daily in our services...”

Mr Devine, who is also clinical manager of Tabor Lodge, said he believed the Roscommon case was a factor in the increase in social service referrals.

Tabor Lodge admits over 230 clients a year and the core of its service is a 28-day residential service for 18 people at a time. Half of all admissions are in the 18 to 35 age group and Mr Devine stressed alcohol was “the main drug of choice”.

Finbar Cassidy, addiction manager at Fellowship House, said eight of its former clients died last year, either by suicide, or alcohol or drug abuse. Fellowship House can take 10 clients at a time on its three month programme, costing €260 a week per client. Half of this is covered by the clients attendance of an associated Community Employment scheme. Typically, the other €130 would be covered by the Exceptional Needs Payment of €19 a night, but this has now been removed.

Mr Cassidy added that it would affect the numbers attending, at a time when there is a 12-13 week waiting list for both facilities.

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