HomeNewsPrisoners with serious addictions waiting 12 weeks for help

Prisoners with serious addictions waiting 12 weeks for help

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THERE were 825 prisoners, 32 of whom were held in Limerick, on waiting lists for drug addiction treatment in Irish jails last year, new figures have shown.

This is in addition to recent revelations by the Limerick Post that there is no treatment at all available in Limerick Prison for prisoners who are addicted to alcohol.

And prisoners with serious drug problems are waiting up to 12 weeks to access a treatment programme.

The figures were disclosed to Sinn Féin TD Mark Ward in response to a parliamentary question last week.

Justice Minister Helen McEntee has confirmed 825 inmates were on a waiting list for prison-based addiction counselling services, which include clearly defined treatment plans and goals, at the end of last year.

While prisoners who declare that they are addicted to certain drugs can be tested and receive or continue treatment with methadone (an opioid replacement), prisons that are at more than 100 per cent capacity still have limited facilities to help addicts.

Recently, one of LImerick’s most experienced legal aid defenders, Ted McCarthy told the Limerick Post that when his clients are jailed they have no recourse to alcohol treatment while they are in prison.

“That’s despite the fact that a huge percentage of offences which come before the courts are drink or drug related,” he said.

“The reality is that many of the repeat offenders who come before the courts and are jailed will be back again because there is no opportunity for them to tackle the problem in jail.”

While prisoners don’t have access to alcohol while they are in prison, experts in the field of addiction agree that a structured programme, involving counselling and coping mechanisms for drug or alcohol abuse, is essential if a prisoner has any hope of staying clean and sober on the outside.

In random survey of recent District Court sittings covered by reporters for the Limerick Post, out of 50 cases in which an accused was convicted, legal representatives cited drug or alcohol abuse as contributing factors in twenty cases.

The Irish Prison Service (IPS) engages Merchants Quay Ireland (MQI) to provide a prison-based addiction counselling service for all prisons. The service includes structured assessments and evidence-based interventions.

Bernie English
Bernie Englishhttp://www.limerickpost.ie
Bernie English has been working as a journalist in national and local media for more than thirty years. She worked as a staff journalist with the Irish Press and Evening Press before moving to Clare. She has worked as a freelance for all of the national newspaper titles and a staff journalist in Limerick, helping to launch the Limerick edition of The Evening Echo. Bernie was involved in the launch of The Clare People where she was responsible for business and industry news.
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