Home > Adolescent Addiction Service report, 2023.

Millar, Sean ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4453-8446 (2023) Adolescent Addiction Service report, 2023. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 85, Spring 2023, pp. 24-25.

PDF (Drugnet Ireland 85)

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 2023, AAS published a report detailing referrals for 2022.1

In 2022, AAS worked with 53 young people and their families, with a mean age of 15 years (range: 13–18 years). This figure includes new referrals, re-referrals, and continuances. The majority of young people were male (76%), while 7% were non-Irish nationals. In terms of referral areas, the greatest numbers of referrals were from Clondalkin, followed by Lucan and Ballyfermot. In comparison with 2021, referrals were up by 10%. However, 12% were from outside the catchment area and, as a result, 10% were referred to services within their own area.

Drug and alcohol use
Cannabis (weed) continued to be the main substance used by clients, with an overall use rate at 98%, while alcohol use was at 35% (see Figure 1). Other substances of use included cocaine (9%), reflecting a 43% reduction compared with 2021; benzodiazepines (4%), reflecting a reduction of 75% on 2021; ketamine (8%); and amphetamines (6%). Solvents and head-shop-type products did not feature among young people’s substance use in 2022. However, 22% admitted to taking nitrous oxide on occasion, reflecting an increase of 175% compared with 2021.

Source: HSE AAS, 2023

Figure 1: Main substances used by AAS clients, 2022 

Other issues

As in previous years, most young people had established patterns of substance use prior to referral, with an average of 17 months (range: 1–60 months); the extent to which substance use featured within families was 65%. A majority of young people (95%) were seen by a family therapist only, with 5% having a psychiatric assessment.

The report 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. However, it was also noted that given the level of tolerance for substance use within certain communities, and petitions for the decriminalisation and legalisation of all drugs, young people are being given mixed messages. Indeed, some adults do not fully appreciate the consequences of substance use for young people.

1    Adolescent Addiction Service (AAS) (2023) Adolescent Addiction Service report 2023 [2022].
Dublin: Health Service Executive. Available from: https://www.drugsandalcohol.ie/38451/

Repository Staff Only: item control page