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[Medical Independent] , Lynch, David The end of the ‘war on drugs’? (14 Aug 2014)

External website: http://www.medicalindependent.ie/52189/the_end_of_...

We are in the midst of a period of unprecedented debate within policy circles regarding addiction. David Lynch investigates new statistics and talks to academics and doctors.

Just over 4,450 adult substance misusers commenced treatment in 2013, according to HSE figures released to this newspaper under a Freedom of Information request.

On a quarterly basis, the number of people commencing treatment following assessment increased during the year, with 1,228 in December. Alcohol service was most in demand with 2,115 users, followed by heroin, ‘other illicit drugs’ and finally over-the-counter drugs.

In terms of opioid substitution (most of which is methadone), there has been a steady increase in those who are in treatment. According to the National Drug Treatment Centre Central Treatment List, the number of patients was 9,251 in 2011, in 2012 it was 9,419, and by last year it had reached 9,652.

The HSE’s National Social Inclusion Office supplied information to the Medical Independent (MI) on the age profile of those in treatment as of the end of March this year. Of the 9,698 in treatment, most were in their 30s. Just over 2,800 were between the ages of 35 and 39 and some 2,128 were between 30 and 34 years old.

These figures give an insight into the growing and varied problem of addiction in Ireland. They also appear against the backdrop of unprecedented debate and experimentation within the addiction and drug policy arena, both at home and abroad.....

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