Dáil Éireann - Volume 487 - 11 February, 1998

Written Answers. - Substance Abuse.

108. Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Health and Children the statistics available since 1990 regarding the number of people who have been hospitalised as a result of the consumption of substances (details supplied). [3585/98]

Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Cowen): National data on hospital discharges for all patients in publicly-funded general hospitals are compiled through the hospital in-patient inquiry HIPE system. HIPE provides for up to six separate diagnoses to be recorded in each case. The following table indicates the number of hospital discharges with a diagnosis of either dependence or abuse or both for each of the specified substances. If a particular case falls into more than one category, for the purpose of this analysis it is reported under the category which appears first in the diagnoses list. The most recent year for which complete national data are available from the HIPE system is 1996; prior to 1995, the system was not sufficiently comprehensive to report national totals reliably.

In interpreting these statistics, it should be noted that several of the categories include more than one specific substance and that it is not possible to break down the figures any further. The category ‘opioids’ includes heroin and methadone as well as other opiates; ‘hallucinogens’ refers to LSD, mescaline and a range of other hallucinogenic substances, ‘amphetamines’ encompasses psychostimulants, including ecstasy. It should also be noted that ‘tobacco’ relates to cases with a specific diagnosis of ‘tobacco use disorder’ indicating impairment of health or social functioning due to tobacco dependence. This should not be taken as an estimate of the numbers of hospitalisations due in full or in part to nicotine.

Hospital Discharges for Dependence on and/or Abuse of Specified Substances, 1995 and 1996.

Substance

1995

1996

Tobacco

12,737

15,756

Alcohol

7,356

8,681

Opioids

594

946

Cannabis

39

39

Hallucinogens

28

10

Cocaine

21

10

Amphetamines

13

16

Source: Hospital In-patient Enquiry, 1995 and 1996.

[178] Information on admissions to psychiatric hospitals and units is collected by the Health Research Board and published in the annual report on Irish psychiatric hospitals and units. The table below summarises published data for the years 1991 to 1996, inclusive, for the categories ‘alcohol disorders’ and ‘drug dependence’. The Health Research Board has been requested to run a more detailed analysis of the ‘drug dependence’ category, and this will be forwarded to the Deputy when it has been completed.

Admissions to Psychiatric Hospitals and Units for Alcoholic Disorders and Drug Dependence, 1991 to 1996

Year

Alcoholic Disorders

Drug Dependence

1991

6,592

277

1992

6,081

331

1993

5,718

381

1994

5,551

514

1995

5,262

538

1996

5,435

565

Source: Annual Report on Irish Psychiatric Hospitals and Units, 1991996, Health Research Board.