The number of inmates on a methadone treatment programme across the prison system last year was the highest since 2012.
Figures contained in a new tender document issued by the Irish Prison Service (IPS) shows that 2,080 prisoners received drug treatment (methadone) last year, including 436 in Mountjoy and 210 in the adjoining Dochas women’s prison. The last time the annual figure was above 2,000 was when 2,176 inmates received treatment in 2012.
The details are contained in a newly published tender for the provision of addiction pharmacist services in Mountjoy and the Dochas prison on a 365 days a year basis for the next four years. The service is estimated to cost around €1.8m and the contract is due to begin in the first quarter of next year.
All pharmacists must have three years’ relevant experience in drug addiction treatment and a site visit is due to take place for interested parties later this month. It is estimated by the IPS that between 170 and 180 inmates receive methadone on a daily basis in Mountjoy, with 60 to 65 receiving the same in Dochas.
According to the tender: “Ensuring continuation of treatment between prison and the community is essential in supporting the efficacy of interventions that have been commenced in either setting.
The IPS has an agreed protocol with the HSE for the seamless transition of prisoners established on drug treatment into community drug treatment settings.
“It is the policy of the Irish Prison Service that where a person committed to prison gives a history of opiate use and tests positive for opioids, they are offered a medically assisted symptomatic detoxification, if clinically indicated.
“There is no waiting list for a detox as there is no dependency on community place availability.”
Patients can discuss other treatment options that include stabilisation on methadone maintenance for persons who wish to continue on maintenance while in prison and when they return to the community on release.
“The Medical Unit at Mountjoy Prison, circa 50 beds, is being used for drug treatment programmes exclusively,” according to the tender.
“The services available include the Drug Treatment Programme (DTP) which is a nine week programme with up to 6 programmes being facilitated in the Medical Unit, Mountjoy Prison annually. Other services available include Slow Detox and Stabilisation and Relapse Programmes."