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Long, Jean and Carew, Anne Marie and McGuire, Vivion (2008) GPs' role in methadone treatment. Drugnet Ireland , Issue 28, Winter 2008 , pp. 9-10.

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Two national registers record drug treatment data in Ireland: the National Drug Treatment Reporting System (NDTRS) is an epidemiological database that records demand for treatment for problem alcohol and drug use, and the Central Treatment List (CTL) is an administrative database to regulate the dispensing of methadone treatment.

 The NDTRS is co-ordinated by staff at the Alcohol and Drug Research Unit (ADRU) of the Health Research Board (HRB) on behalf of the Department of Health and Children.
 
The CTL was established following the Report of the Methadone Treatment Services Review Group 1998.1 This list is administered by the Drug Treatment Centre Board on behalf of the Health Service Executive and is a complete register of all patients receiving methadone as treatment for problem opiate use in Ireland.
 
According to these data sources, the total number of cases receiving methadone treatment increased by 32% between 2002 and 2007 (Table 1). The number receiving treatment in private general practice increased by 36% during the same period. In each of the six years, at least 30% of cases who received methadone treatment were treated in private general practice. 
 
Table 1   Total cases in methadone treatment,  and number, treatment status and percentage of cases treated in private general practice, 2002–2007
 Cases in methadone treatment
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
Total cases
7419
7736
8800
9354
9675
9769
Cases treated in general practice
2323
2494
2699
2827
2890
3161
Cases continuing in treatment in general practice from the previous year*
1875
2113
2292
2488
2642
2872
Cases entering treatment in general practice during the reporting year†
448
381
407
339
248
289
Cases treated in general practice as a percentage of total cases
31%
32%
31%
30%
30%
32%
*Numbers obtained from the Central Treatment List
†Numbers obtained from the National Drug Treatment Reporting System
 
The proportion of cases continuing in methadone treatment each year was higher among those attending private general practice than among those attending other treatment providers (Table 2). The cases attending general practice were older than those attending other treatment providers. There was no difference in the gender profile.
 
Table 2   Proportion of cases in methadone treatment in Ireland, by treatment status, gender and age group, 2002–2007
 
Treatment service
General practice
Other
%
%
Cases continuing in treatment from the previous year
87
75
Cases entering treatment (either new or returning)
13
25
Male
69
67
Female
31
32
Age group
 
 
10–14 years
0
0
15–19 years
1
2
20–24 years
13
18
25–29 years
31
32
30–34 years
24
24
35–39 years
15
13
40–44 years
9
7
45–49 years
5
3
50–54 years
2
1
55–59 years
1
0
60–64 years
0
0
65 years or over
0
0


 

1. Methadone Treatment Services Review Group (1998) Report of the Methadone Treatment Services Review Group. Dublin: Department of Health and Children. Available as Appendix 4 in: Methadone Prescribing Implementation Committee (2005) Review of the Methadone Treatment Protocol. Dublin: Department of Health and Children.

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