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Pike, Brigid (2016) Service users’ rights. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 58, Summer 2016, p. 29.

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According to a presentation by Niall O'Connell of Service User Rights in Action Group and Community Action Network (CAN) at CityWide’s 20th Anniversary conference in November 2015,1 users of MMT services encounter three practices which may be classed as human rights abuses. The practices were identified in the course of research conducted with clients of methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) services in 2013, which included a questionnaire completed by 101 respondents. The three practices are: 

    • Urine sampling – procedures for obtaining samples were based on assumption that people will cheat, and there was a lack of consistency in the frequency of sampling and conduct of the tests.
      Lack of meaningful review – 83 per cent of respondents were not asked their opinion; 62 per cent were never given a care plan; 43 per cent never felt they had a meaningful discussion with a doctor, and 34 per cent did not know this was an option.
      Lack of choices 94 per cent said they had never been offered an alternative to MMT. 

Following a dialogue process regarding these findings, the researchers identified three emerging themes: 

  • Powerlessness within the whole system – who has the power to make change, and who is accountable?
  • Voice and participation of the service user is valued – but who is listening?
  • Stuck conversation – harm reduction versus abstinence.


1 O’Connell N (2015, 12 November) Developing a human rights approach to delivery of drug services. PowerPoint presentation delivered at CityWide 20th Anniversary conference. Retrieved 27 April 2016 at http://www.citywide.ie/publications/listing/developing-a-human-rights-approach-to-delivery-of-drug-services/

Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, International, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
All substances
Intervention Type
General / Comprehensive, Treatment method, Harm reduction, Psychosocial treatment method, Rehabilitation/Recovery
Issue Title
Issue 58, Summer 2016
August 2016
Page Range
p. 29
Health Research Board
Issue 58, Summer 2016

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