Dáil Éireann - Volume 399 - 06 June, 1990

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Drug Abuse Treatment Facilities.

14. Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to a number of people who are presenting themselves for treatment for psychiatric problems due to withdrawal from drugs use and who cannot gain psychiatric assistance given that residential and other agencies are overcrowded; and the plans he has to deal with this problem.

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Mr. N. Treacy): At the outset I would like to point out that the majority of people suffering from withdrawal symptoms due to drug abuse do not require psychiatric treatment. There are, however, a range of specialist facilities available for these people. These include in-patient detoxification services at Beaumont Hospital, out-patient services at the Drug Advisory and Treatment Centre, [1305] Trinity Court and a drop-in centre for intravenous drug abusers in Baggot Street Hospital. A number of voluntary agencies also provide services for persons suffering from drug abuse. These agencies receive State financial support.

I am aware of the demands being made on existing facilities. I am keeping the level of service provision under constant review. I might add that plans to provide additional services for drug abusers are at an advanced stage. These plans involve the provision of a new drop-in centre, similar to that in operation in Baggot Street Hospital, on the north side of Dublin. This centre is expected to open this year.

Apart from these specialist services for persons suffering from drug abuse, a full range of psychiatric services is also available to those who require psychiatric treatment. Psychiatric services are being developed in community settings and are therefore more accessible to people who need to avail of those services.

Mr. Yates: In relation to the care of drug abusers and so on, is the Minister of State aware that the immediate need is a decentralisation of the service; that people living in remote parts of Dublin such as Tallaght, where there is poor public transport, cannot and do not go into Pearse Street or into the drop-in centre in Baggot Street Hospital because of transport difficulties and so on? Would he agree that what is needed is decentralisation, by way of out-reach programmes, bringing those social workers into deprived communities where there is drug abuse? Will the Minister of State, as a matter of priority, seek to review the services with a view to decentralising them?

Mr. N. Treacy: The matter is constantly under review. The Department of Health are constantly in touch with both the professional and voluntary agencies. As I said in my earlier reply, we propose to locate a new centre in the north side of Dublin to cater for that area. The Deputy can be assured that there is an [1306] excellent out-reach programme available being administered by the Eastern Health Board in co-operation with the Department of Health.

Mrs. Owen: Could the Minister be more specific and indicate whereabouts in the north side he is proposing to provide the drop-in centre? Could the Minister further indicate whether the Department are aware that the latest horrific use of cider is that young people are injecting themselves with it and are the Department taking any action to deal with it?

Mr. N. Treacy: The plans are in position to locate a new centre in the north side of Dublin and at present a suitable premises is being sought——

Mr. Yates: The Richmond Hospital has been acquired.

Mr. N. Treacy: When a suitable premises is acquired — a number of premises are under consideration at present, not just one——

Mrs. Owen: Will it be opened in 1990?

Mr. N. Treacy: We are very optimistic that we will be able to do that. We have recently established a high-powered national co-ordinating committee on drug abuse who will report by October. All the matters which the Deputy has referred to, particularly cider and other matters relating to drugs, are being considered. We should wait for that report to be put together.

Mrs. Owen: People may be dead.

Mr. N. Treacy: The matter is being constantly taken care of.