One of the country's largest treatment centres for people overcoming addiction wants the Government to back a new mother-and-child facility in Limerick.
Coolmine chief executive, Pauline McKeown, said Limerick City and County Council are helping the charity to identify suitable premises and several options are being considered.
The new Limerick facility will be similar to Coomine's Ashleigh House in Dublin, the only residential addiction treatment service in Ireland that provides care for mothers and their children.
“We started to look at Limerick because over a third of the women on the waiting list for Ashleigh House are from the mid-west area,” said Ms McKeown.
“We used to have around 30 women on the centre's waiting list but that doubled to over 60 at the start of the year - 80% are mothers."
Last year Coolmine worked with 73 women in Ashleigh House, with 33% from the midwest.
Ms McKeown said many of the women are from disadvantaged areas and would have experienced addiction in their home: “The women would already be on a detox or drug stabilisation programme. Some of them would be pregnant.”
The charity is seeking €1.6m a year in State funding to provide a 20-bed residential treatment unit, including a creche, in Limerick.
Ms McKeown said they hope that the necessary funding will come from the HSE, the Probation Service and Tusla, the Child and Family Agency.
“We have an opportunity to decrease the level of homelessness and break generational cycles of addiction in Ireland by putting in place this service in Limerick.”
Ms McKeown said the average of the women seeking addiction treatment is between 27 to 30.
Ashleigh House is the only place where a pregnant mother on methadone can come with her children and access treatment. In the final stages of the mother's pregnancy, it would be dangerous to stop the methadone so we would provide a stabilisation period.
"After the delivery of the baby, the mother can decide to detox and become fully drug-free.”
Ms McKeown was speaking at the launch of Coolemine's annual report and it shows that the charity helped more than 9,000 individuals and their families last year.
Over the year, 1,590 people participated in drug treatment programmes - a 16% increase on the previous year.
A Trinity College Dublin Study in 2016 found that two years after treatment 72% of Coolmine's clients were drug-free.