Home > Adolescent Addiction Service report, 2021.

Millar, Sean (2022) Adolescent Addiction Service report, 2021. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 80, Winter 2022, p. 20.

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The Adolescent Addiction Service (AAS) of the Health Service Executive (HSE) provides support and treatment in relation to alcohol and drug use for young people and families from the Dublin suburbs of Ballyfermot, Clondalkin, Palmerstown, Lucan, and Inchicore. Services provided include advice, assessment, counselling, family therapy, professional consultations, and medications if required. In 2021, AAS published a report detailing referrals for 2020.1


In 2020, AAS worked with 40 young people and their families, with a mean age of 15.4 years (range: 14–19 years). This figure includes new referrals, re-referrals, and continuances. In comparison to 2019, referrals were down by 18%. However, the decline in numbers should be viewed within the circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic. The majority of young people were male (82%), while 13% were non-Irish nationals. In terms of referral areas, the greatest numbers of referrals were from Clondalkin followed by Lucan, Ballyfermot, Palmerstown,
and Inchicore.

Drug and alcohol use

Cannabis (weed) continued to be the main substance used by clients, with an overall use rate at 100%, while alcohol use was at 69% (see Figure 1). Other substances of use included cocaine (26%), benzodiazepines (24%), and amphetamines (7%). Solvents and head-shop-type products did not feature among young people’s substance use in 2020.

Other issues

Other issues that presented related to absconding, indebtedness, and holding, distributing or dealing drugs. Some young people had social work involvement and 39% had been assigned a juvenile liaison officer at some stage. The majority of young people (95%) were seen by a family therapist only, with 5% having a psychiatric assessment. No young person was prescribed medication within the service in 2020.


The report authors noted that, as in previous years, most young people had established patterns of substance use prior to referral and, as a consequence, some struggle to maintain a drug-free status. Nevertheless, most achieve stability and several remain abstinent. They concluded that there is a need for parents and non-parental adults to identify young people within risk groups at an early stage and to elevate concern for them.

Source: HSE AAS (2021)

Figure 1: Main substances used by AAS clients, 2020 

1 Adolescent Addiction Service (2021) Adolescent Addiction Service report 2021. Dublin: Health Service Executive. https://www.drugsandalcohol.ie/34099/

Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
All substances
Intervention Type
Treatment method
Issue Title
Issue 80, Winter 2022
March 2022
Page Range
p. 20
Health Research Board
Issue 80, Winter 2022

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