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Millar, Sean (2020) Trends in alcohol and drug admissions to psychiatric facilities. Drugnet Ireland , Issue 74, Summer 2020 , pp. 28-29.

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The annual report published by the Mental Health Information Systems Unit of the Health Research Board, Activities of Irish psychiatric units and hospitals 2018,1 shows that the rate of new admissions to inpatient care for alcohol disorders has decreased. 

In 2018, some 1,086 cases were admitted to psychiatric facilities with an alcohol disorder, of which 389 were treated for the first time. Figure 1 presents the rates of first admission between 1998 and 2018 for cases with a diagnosis of an alcohol disorder. The admission rate in 2018 was lower than the previous year, and trends over time indicate an overall decline in first admissions. One-third of cases hospitalised for an alcohol disorder in 2018 stayed just under one week, while 33% of cases were hospitalised for between one and three months, similar to previous years. 

In 2018, some 995 cases were admitted to psychiatric facilities with a drug disorder. Of these cases, 408 were treated for the first time. Figure 2 presents the rates of first admission between 1998 and 2018 of cases with a diagnosis of a drug disorder. Although the rate decreased slightly in 2018, there has been an overall increase in the rate of first admission with a drug disorder since 2011. It should be noted that the report does not present data on drug use and psychiatric comorbidity; therefore, it is not possible to determine whether or not these admissions were appropriate. 

Figure 1: Rates of psychiatric first admission of cases with a diagnosis of an alcohol disorder per 100,000 of population in Ireland, 1998-2018

Figure 2: Rates of psychiatric first admission of cases with a diagnosis of a drug disorder per 100,000 of population in Ireland, 1998-2018

Source: Daly and Craig (2019) 

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Other notable statistics on admissions for a drug disorder in 2018 include the following: 

  • Less than one-half of cases hospitalised for a drug disorder stayed under one week (48%), while 99% were discharged within three months. It should be noted that admissions and discharges represent episodes or events and not persons.
  • 17% of first-time admissions were involuntary.
  • Similar to previous years, the rate of first-time admissions was higher for men (13.8 per 100,000 population) than for women (3.5 per 100,000 population). 

1 Daly A and Craig S (2019) Activities of Irish psychiatric units and hospitals 2018. Dublin: Health Research Board. https://www.drugsandalcohol.ie/30746/

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