Home > Treated problem alcohol use in Ireland, NDTRS data 2013.

Lyons, Suzi (2015) Treated problem alcohol use in Ireland, NDTRS data 2013. Drugnet Ireland , Issue 55, Autumn 2015 , p. 18.

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The most recent figures on treated problem alcohol use from the National Drug Treatment Reporting System (NDTRS) show that a total of 7,549 cases were treated for problem alcohol use in 2013, a drop of 12.3% since 2011.1


The total number of cases has reduced for the last two consecutive years for which data are available, from a peak of 8,604 in 2011, down to 8,336 in 2012 and 7,549 in 2013 (Table 1). The number of new cases presenting for the first time for treatment also decreased, by 20.8%, from 4,520 in 2011 to 3,578 in 2013. Between 2009 and 2012, the number of cases who returned for treatment increased by 19.5% (from 3,524 cases in 2009 to a peak of 4,212 in 2012), but between 2012 and 2013, a decrease was also recorded for this group, from 4,212 to 3,801, a drop of 9.8%.


No specific geographic trends were observed for 2013. Twenty-two of the 32 local health offices reported a decrease in the number of treated cases, with Cork/North Lee (6.6%), Waterford (6.4%) and Donegal (5.9%) reporting the highest proportions of cases in 2013. The incidence of treatment for problem alcohol use by county between 2009 and 2013 was highest in Waterford, Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim and Carlow (with each of these counties reporting more than 240 cases per 100,000 of the 15–64-year-old population).


As in previous years, almost one in five (18.8%) of those treated for problem alcohol use in 2013 reported problem use of at least one other drug. The most common drugs used were cannabis, followed by cocaine, benzodiazepines and ecstasy. Use of more than one drug increases the complexity of cases and can lead to poorer outcomes for the patient.


In 2013, there were no significant changes in the sociodemographic characteristics of those treated for problem alcohol use compared to 2012: 

  • Half of those in treatment for problem alcohol use started drinking alcohol at 15 years of age or younger.
  • The median age for cases was 40 years.
  • While the proportion of cases under the age of 18 remained small in 2013 (3.0%), the number of new cases in that age group fell, from 6.4% in 2010 to 5.0% in 2013.
  • The majority of cases, both new (62.6%) and previously treated (64.0%), were male.
  • The proportion of cases in employment increased from 19.7% in 2012 to 21.5% in 2013.
  • The proportion of all cases who were homeless in 2013 was 5.7%. Previously treated cases were more likely to be homeless (7.4%) than new cases (3.8%).


Notwithstanding the increase in the number of treatment centres reporting to the NDTRS within the time period, there was a decrease in the number of cases treated between 2011 and 2013. This may reflect a true decrease in the number of cases presenting for treatment for problem alcohol use but may also reflect reduced levels of participation, or under-reporting to the NDTRS, or a combination of both.


NDTRS data for 2004 to 2013 are available on line through interactive tables located on the National Documentation Centre’s website: https://www.drugsandalcohol.ie/key-info/

1 Health Research Board (2015) Treated problem alcohol use in Ireland: figures for 2013 from the National Drug Treatment Reporting System. Dublin: National Health Information Systems, Health Research Board. https://www.drugsandalcohol.ie/23564

Item Type:Article
Issue Title:Issue 55, Autumn 2015
Date:October 2015
Page Range:p. 18
Publisher:Health Research Board
Volume:Issue 55, Autumn 2015
Subjects:B Substances > Alcohol
G Health and disease > Substance use disorder > Alcohol use > Alcohol dependence
HJ Treatment method > Substance disorder treatment method
VA Geographic area > Europe > Ireland

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