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Long, Jean (2011) Trends in alcohol and drug admissions to psychiatric facilities. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 37, Spring 2011 . pp. 16-17.

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Activities of Irish psychiatric units and hospitals 2009,the annual report published by the Mental Health Information Systems Unit of the Health Research Board in December 2010, shows that the total number of admissions to inpatient care has continued to fall.1 

In 2009, 1,993 cases were admitted to psychiatric facilities with an alcohol disorder, of whom 679 were treated for the first time. Figure 1 presents the rates of first admission between 1990 and 2009 of cases with a diagnosis of alcohol disorder. It is notable that the rate decreased fairly steadily in the years 1992 to 2004 and more than halved over the reporting period. The rate stabilised in 2004 and 2005, but decreased again in the years 2006 to 2009. The trend since the early nineties reflects changes in the policy and practice of alcohol treatment, and the resultant increase in community-based and special residential alcohol treatment services. Of the 2,009 discharges of cases with an alcohol disorder in 2009, 50% spent 8 days or more in hospital. Whether or not these admissions were appropriate, and in line with the recommendations of the mental health policy, A vision for change, could not be discerned from the report as the numbers with co-morbid illness were not reported.

In 2009, 824 cases were admitted to psychiatric facilities with a drug disorder, of whom 313 were treated for the first time.The report does not present data on drug use and psychiatric co-morbidity, so it is not possible to determine whether or not these admissions were appropriate. Figure 2 presents the rates of first admission between 1990 and 2009 of cases with a diagnosis of drug disorder.The rate was almost three times higher in 2001 than it was in 1990. Notable dips in the rate occur in the census years 1996, 2002 and 2006, and can be partly explained by the increased population figures used as the denominator in calculating the rate for those years. 

The overall increase in the rate of drug-related first admissions between 1990 and 2001 reflects the increase in problem drug use in Ireland and its burden on the psychiatric services. The overall decrease in the rate since 2001 possibly reflects an increase in the provision of community-based specialised addiction services during this period. The increased rate in 2005 may be accounted for by the use of the 2002 census figure in calculating the rate. The decrease to 5.9 in 2006 reflects the new census figure used as denominator. The rate increased in 2008 and 2009. Of the 847 discharges with a drug disorder, 50% spent six days or more in hospital. 

1. Daly A and Walsh D (2010) Activities of Irish psychiatric units and hospitals 2009: main findings. HRB Statistics Series 9. Dublin: Health Research Board. www.hrb.ie/publications/hrb-publication/publications//535/
2. Annual reports from the National Psychiatric In-patient Reporting System (NPIRS) for the years 1990 to 2009 are available on the Health Research Board website at www.hrb.ie/publications/mental-health

Item Type:Article
Issue Title:Issue 37, Spring 2011
Date:2011
Page Range:pp. 16-17
Publisher:Health Research Board
Volume:Issue 37, Spring 2011
EndNote:View
Accession Number:HRB (Available)
Subjects:G Health and disease > State of health > Mental health
J Health care, prevention and rehabilitation > Care by type of problem > Mental health care
VA Geographic area > Europe > Ireland
G Health and disease > Drugs and alcohol related disorder > Drugs and alcohol related mental disorder

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