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Condron, Ita (2009) Family Matters seminar. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 29, Spring 2009, p. 5.

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Ballymun Local Drugs Task Force hosted a policy seminar, Family Matters, on 21 October 2008. The aim was to explore key concepts, principles and practices in relation to addiction and the family with a view to influencing future development of drug and family policy.

 Dr Paul Quigley outlined the evolution of methadone treatment in Ireland from a model focused on a quick detox in a central location followed by abstinence to one encompassing community-based clinics, with more GP involvement, partnership working and the inclusion of family members. He outlined the benefits of 'home maintenance', where family members are involved in dose supervision and risk reduction.
 
Dr Paul McArdle discussed mental health and substance use in adolescents and described the influence of family structure and family relationships on young drug users.  He said that mental health issues, especially conduct disorder, are important determinants of drug use among adolescents.
 
Dr Marguerite Woods spoke about the experiences of female drug users and their interactions with children, partners, families, drug treatment providers and social workers. Female drug users had varying degrees of success in preserving their role, identity and motherhood status, with some having lost all contact with their children. Women who had retrieved their motherhood role generally did so with the help of family members who had 'held the fort' and 'kept social services away'. Some women suggested that family disapproval was greater for drug-using daughters than for drug-using sons, and a significant number experienced a lack of family support or variations in support over time. Many women felt that asking for help made things more difficult for them in the struggle to preserve their motherhood roles. 
 
An audio-visual presentation portrayed the reactions of fathers to drug use and suggested that men are less likely to talk about what's happening to them and often suffer in silence.
 
Three concurrent workshops focused on drug use from a family perspective.  The themes were 'The impact of problem drug use on the family and stages of engagement', 'Psychological needs of children of drug using families: a local response', and 'Working systematically with families in a community setting'.  Attendees also spoke of their own experiences and discussed a number of issues, including the lack of services and supports for siblings and partners of drug users, how best to inform drug users of available services and supports, and the length of time spent on methadone treatment.
 
3. According to the discussion on the measurement and monitoring of performance contained in the National Service Plan 2009, the performance indicators contained in the plan will be reported in the HSE Performance Monitoring Reports (PMRs), which are due to be produced monthly, quarterly, bi-annually and annually.  

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