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Home > Coolmine Therapeutic Community, Dublin: a forty-year history of Ireland's first voluntary drug treatment service.

Butler, Shane (2016) Coolmine Therapeutic Community, Dublin: a forty-year history of Ireland's first voluntary drug treatment service. Addiction, 111, (2), pp. 197-203.

AIM: To document the evolution over forty years (1973-2013) of Coolmine Therapeutic Community (Ireland's first voluntary drug treatment service) against a background of broader drug policy developments in the Republic of Ireland and elsewhere during this period.

METHODS: Data were gathered by means of archival research within Coolmine, complemented by semi-structured interviews with former clients, current and former Coolmine management and staff, and representatives of outsider stakeholder interests.

RESULTS: Coolmines's history has three phases: 1) an early and uncontentious phase in which external authorities provided financial support for Coolmine without questioning its work practices or outcomes; 2) a middle, controversial phase in which Coolmine struggled for survival in an external policy environment now dominated by harm reduction strategies; 3) a final phase in which, through the use of conventional corporate governance, Coolmine management sought to repair its damaged reputation by introducing evidence-based clinical practices.

CONCLUSIONS: Coolmine Therapeutic Community was established when drug treatment services in Ireland were in their infancy, and its changing fortunes over subsequent decades reflected changing perceptions of what constitutes appropriate addiction treatment - and in particular the role to be played by former addicts within addiction treatment systems - as well as changing perceptions of funding relationships between statutory authorities and voluntary providers of health and social services.


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