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Home > Harm reduction initiatives for drug users and the general population: what value to society?

O'Shea, Jacinta and Keenan, Eamon (2004) Harm reduction initiatives for drug users and the general population: what value to society? Irish Psychiatrist , 5 , (3) , pp. 109-110.

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This paper charts the benefits of harm reduction measures for drug users and society in general in Ireland. It points out that extensive changes have occurred in Irish drug policy, with the expansion of the Drug Treatment Services in response to the Government Strategy to prevent drug misuse in 1991 and the National AIDS Strategy Commission report in 1992 and the introduction of the methadone protocol in 1998. The paper shows that approximately 7000 individuals receive methadone treatment, with over 55 methadone clinics in the Eastern region of the country. Needle exchange programmes have also expanded, with 14 serving the Dublin area. The paper shows that in Britain it has been estimated that for every £1 spent on treatment there is a return of more than £3 in terms of savings associated with reduced crime. The paper points out that more progress needs to be made in regard to high-risk sexual behaviour, not just focussing on drug misuers, but also those who exchange sex to support addiction. The paper suggests practical interventions including outreach, peer and social interventions, sex education, legal access to sterile injecting equipment and low threshold agonist pharmacology, in the form of methadone treatment programmes.

 

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