Minister hears children in Limerick as young as 13 battling addiction

Minister Colm Burke was given a tour of CSMT services by team leader Mike Walsh Photo: George Becker/Pexels.

A GOVERNMENT minister visiting a number of Limerick addiction treatment and support services this week heard how children as young as 13 are battling addiction.

He was also told how an increase in young people involved in gambling, especially online, is a worrying development.

Minister Colm Burke, Minister of State at the Department of Health with responsibility for Public Health, Wellbeing, and the National Drugs Strategy this past Tuesday visited the Community Substance Misuse Team (CSMT), a community-based organisation that provides individual support to young people aged 13 to 23 and their families impacted by problem substance use throughout the Mid West.

Minister of State Colm Burke visited Limerick this week. Photo: Diane Cusack

CSMT deals with up to 160 clients a year, the vast majority of them under 18 years of age, CSMT team leader Mike Walsh told the Limerick Post.

He says the team is the only drugs and alcohol service in the region working with adolescents impacted by substance use.

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During the visit to CSMT headquarters in Arthur’s Quay in Limerick City, Minister Burke met with both service users and staff members to hear about issues facing them.

“These challenges include problem substance use at a young age,  family conflict and breakdown, parental addiction and other difficulties, the challenge of managing ‘recovery’ as a young person, homelessness, mental health and wellbeing issues, domestic violence, sexual assault, self-harm, suicide related concerns, drug debts, and on-going criminal activity,” Mr Walsh said.

The Minister, who was accompanied by Cllr Daniel Butler, expressed admiration for the compassion exhibited by CSMT staff.

The team gave the Minister an insight into its intervention model, which is based around non-judgement.

Mr Walsh highlighted challenges faced by the service, including the lack of multi-annual funding, increases in rent and utility costs, and increased costs of booking rooms across three counties without additional funding.

Community Substance Misuse team leader Mike Walsh.

“We have five staff and four of them are part-time. Providing funding over a number of years instead of annually would allow for improved planning over a longer period. Annual funding also makes it harder to retain experienced staff due to job insecurity,” he said.

“There is an increase in young people experiencing homelessness The young adults who present to CSMT are often without family support and accommodation. Attempting to offer a positive future without substances without a roof over their head is a major challenge.”

Cllr Butler said that “community-based services like CSMT don’t often get the opportunity to display the work they do, but play a crucial role in providing early intervention and support to young people facing problem substance use issues, enabling them to access the help they need within their own communities.”

Mr Walsh told the Limerick Post the service was “honoured to have Minister Burke visit and witness firsthand the positive impact of our work”.

“By listening to the experiences of the people who use our service and the staff, by investing appropriately in the CSMT service and in a planned manner, young people and families will be supported to reach their full potential into the future. This will save the state multiples of their investment in the long run,” he said.

For more information about CSMT or to make a referral, phone 061 318 904 or visit