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Irish Association of Alcohol and Addiction Counsellors. [IAAAC] IAAAC: Increased risk of drug overdose deaths. (16 Nov 2010)

[img] Microsoft Word (Letter from IAAAC to Paul O'Toole - Director General - FAS) - Supplemental Material

Attention Minister O'Cuiv

Dear Minister,

With the current financial crisis it is to be expected that all areas of Government expenditure be being examined. I believe that you are currently looking at the issue of 'double payments' for people on FAS Community Employment Projects. I would like to focus on the 'special status' drugs rehabilitation FAS Community Employment (CE) Projects and the possible knock-on effects of any proposed changes. I recently e-mailed FAS to get current numbers involved in these projects (see attached). The last published figures (2004) showed that there were 89 special projects, catering for 812 people with drug mis-use problems and that 67.6% or 549 participants were in receipt of dual payments.

I have hands-on experience of working on one of these programmes and I have had the privilege of visiting several others. In all cases I have seen people move from chaotic use to a newfound stability and in a minority of cases I have seen some people achieve a drug-free lifestyle. In ten years of work in this area I have come across a number of internationally accepted practices and concepts. The first is contingency management (this is where the drug mis-users is offered a financial reward to address their drug mis-use problem) and the second proven concept is that the longer a person remains in treatment (linked in with services) the greater the success rate with regards to drug use.

The FAS funded drugs programmes are perfect examples of these two principles at work. I have a fear that the proposed changes will see the vast majority of drug mis-users exiting the service. Having achieved stability and dramatically reduced their drug use I believe that this will place them at high-risk to drug overdose death. The research by Suzi Lyons 'Drug-related Deaths among Recently Released Prisoners in Ireland, 1998 to 2007' shows the increased risk of mortality in those newly released from prison.

I fear that if stable recovering drug mis-users exit a safe and supporting environment and resume using as they did prior to joining these programmes that with their changed tolerance they will be at an increased risk of overdose death. I was hoping that you could give this matter your urgent attention,

I remain,
Yours truly,
Declan Byrne (085-8252471)- Irish Association of Alcohol and Addiction Counsellors

Reply from Minister: 18 November 2010

Dear Declan
I refer to your recent e-mail to me in relation to CE schemes. I have noted your concern regarding same. No such proposals have been made to me regarding the entitlement of single parents and people in receipt of the Disability Allowance who are on CE schemes. If such proposals are made to me, I will certainly keep the issues you have raised in mind. I am aware of these issues from my previous role with responsibility for the Drugs Programme in
the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.

Mise le meas
Éamon Ó Cuív TD
Minister for Social Protection


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