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Home > Treated problem alcohol use in Ireland: Figures for 2007 from the National Drug Treatment Reporting System.

Health Research Board. Alcohol and Drug Research Unit. (2009) Treated problem alcohol use in Ireland: Figures for 2007 from the National Drug Treatment Reporting System. Dublin: Health Research Board.

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The total number of cases treated for problem alcohol use in Ireland increased from 5,876 cases in 2006 to 7,312 in 2007. This may be attributed to an increase in the number of people presenting for treatment, or it may reflect the increase in 2007 in the number of treatment centres participating in the NDTRS. (Table 2)

The number of new cases treated for alcohol as their main problem drug has risen by 9%, from 3,432 cases in 2006 to 3,736 cases in 2007. The number of cases who returned for treatment also increased, from 2,345 cases in 2006 to 3,110 in 2007.

As in 2006, the largest proportion (33%) of treated alcohol cases in 2007 lived in the HSE South region, and just over one-quarter (25.8%) lived in the HSE West region. (Table 4)

The incidence of treatment for problem alcohol by county for the period 2004 to 2007 was highest in Sligo, Carlow, Donegal, Waterford, Leitrim and Kilkenny (with over 200 cases per 100,000 of the 15–64-year-old population). The incidence rates were lowest in Mayo, Roscommon and Galway (with under 100 cases per 100,000). The lower incidence rates observed in Dublin, Kildare, Galway, Mayo, Roscommon and Wicklow are due to the fact that services in these counties did not participate in the NDTRS up to the end of 2006. (Figure 1)

The prevalence of treated problem alcohol use among 15–64-year-olds living in Ireland, expressed per 100,000 of the population, increased from 182.9 in 2006 to 222.6 in 2007. The incidence of treated problem alcohol use among 15–64-year-olds living in Ireland, expressed per 100,000 of the population, increased from 109.8 in 2006 to 118.3 in 2007. These increases in prevalence and incidence may be explained by an increase in problematic alcohol use in the population, an increase in reporting to the NDTRS, or a combination of both. (Figure 2)

One in five of those treated for problem alcohol use also reported using at least one other substance in 2007, a similar proportion to that observed in 2006. In 2007, the most common drugs used in conjunction with alcohol for treated alcohol cases were cannabis, followed by cocaine, ecstasy and benzodiazepines. This reflects a minor change since 2006, when amphetamines were the fourth most common additional drug. Use of more than one substance increases the complexity of cases and leads to poorer outcomes for the patient. Information about combinations of substances used is important in terms of individual clients’ care plans. (Tables 6 and 7)

The NDTRS records the treatment intervention(s) provided when a client is first admitted to a treatment service. However, more than half of clients attending treatment receive more than one treatment, which means the number of treatments is greater than the number of clients.

In 2007 40% of cases presenting for treatment received one type of intervention, while almost 16% received two types of intervention. Counselling remained the most common initial treatment intervention, with three in every four cases receiving counselling. (Figures 4 and 5)

In 2007, the median age at which cases, both new and previously treated, began drinking was 16 years, similar to previous years. (Table 9)

The age profile of cases treated for problem alcohol use remained the same in 2006 and 2007. The median age for all treated cases was 39 years; for new cases, the median age continued to be younger (37 years). While the proportion of cases under the age of 18 remained small, the number of previously-treated cases and new cases in that age group continued to rise. (Table 10)

The socio-demographic characteristics of cases, both new and previously-treated, remained similar to previous years. The majority were male, with low levels of employment. The proportion of cases who were homeless rose slightly between 2006 and 2007: new cases from 2.4% to 2.9%, and previously-treated cases from 5.4% to 7.0%. Those who used additional substances with alcohol were more likely to be unemployed and live in unstable accommodation. (Table 10; Figures 6 and 7)


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