Govt failing drug users who hope to come clean by denying vital services
Speaking on the Adjournment Debate in the Seanad last night (Tuesday) Fine Gael Seanad Community Spokesperson, Senator Jerry Buttimer, said the Government is spectacularly failing drug users who hope to come clean by denying them the facilities they need to kick the habit.
“If drug users are to be supported in coming clean access to treatment, rehabilitation and detox beds are essential. Sadly, for those suffering with addictions in Cork, none of these aids are readily available with users being sent a clear message from Government that responsibility for detoxification lies solely with them.
“In Cork there is currently a waiting list of up to 150 heroin users for methadone treatment at the Arbour House treatment centre, which is run by the HSE. The programme is administered by two doctors who operate as one whole-time equivalent doctor, attempting to administer the programme in a county the size of Cork. Not only is there a waiting time, but there is a lack of expansion in the methadone treatment programme to community pharmacists and a deficit in education. Furthermore, Cork does not have enough rehab beds and has no detox beds at all.
“The report of Dr. Mai Mannix recently highlighted the fact that the region should have 24 beds, 12 of which should be in Cork city. Over the years, drug rehabilitation outside Dublin has suffered a considerable lack of funding. Drug prevention and rehabilitation projects must comprise the cornerstone of any strategy, something which is not evidenced in Cork.
“The Criminal Justice (Amendment) Bill placed the role of the Gardaí as a cornerstone. I am confident that Gardaí in Cork have a plan, but do the Government and the HSE? Under articles 48 and 72 of the National Drugs Strategy, treatment and rehabilitation centres are required. The HSE’s report of the working group on the residential treatment and rehabilitation of substance users and the availability of dedicated drug residential places made strong recommendations which must be implemented, particularly in terms of detoxification and providing access to facilities. The Government must help those who are struggling to help themselves. Putting users, who hope to get clean, on a waiting list for treatment just simply isn’t good enough.”