Written answers

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Department of Justice, Equality and Defence

Prison Drug Treatment Services

9:00 pm

Photo of Jonathan O'BrienJonathan O'Brien (Cork North Central, Sinn Fein)
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Question 498: To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of prisoners on waiting lists for drug treatment programmes and the average waiting list time. [7766/12]

Photo of Alan ShatterAlan Shatter (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Defence; Dublin South, Fine Gael)
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Given the large number of prisoners requiring drug treatment services, the Irish Prison Service endeavours to provide a comprehensive range of services. Drug rehabilitation programmes for prisoners involve a significant multidimensional input by a diverse range of general and specialist services provided both by the Irish Prison Service and visiting statutory and non-statutory organisations. It is the policy of the Irish Prison Service that where a person committed to prison gives a history of opiate use and tests positive for opioids to offer a medically assisted symptomatic detoxification, if clinically indicated. Patients can, as part of the assessment process, discuss with healthcare staff other treatment options, which may include stabilisation on methadone maintenance for persons who wish to continue on maintenance, while in prison and when they return to the community on release.

Merchants Quay Ireland are contracted to provide addiction counselling services in those prisons and deliver approximately 1,500 prisoner contacts per month. The service is delivered by 21 counsellors. There were 2,792 referrals to the service in 2011. There are currently approximately 290 on waiting lists across the system awaiting assessment and treatment. All those referred are assessed initially by a counsellor to identify the person’s addiction and agree a treatment plan.

Photo of Jonathan O'BrienJonathan O'Brien (Cork North Central, Sinn Fein)
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Question 499: To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of prisoners who requested methadone treatment during each of the past five years; and the number of prisoners who received methadone treatment during each of the past five years. [7767/12]

Photo of Alan ShatterAlan Shatter (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Defence; Dublin South, Fine Gael)
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I wish to advise the Deputy that it is the policy of the Irish Prison Service that where a person committed to prison gives a history of opiate use and tests positive for opioids to offer a medically assisted symptomatic detoxification, if clinically indicated. Patients can, as part of the assessment process, discuss with healthcare staff other treatment options, which may include stabilisation on methadone maintenance for persons who wish to continue on maintenance, while in prison and when they return to the community on release. Methadone maintenance is available in 9 of the 14 prisons and places of detention. The following table illustrates the number of prisoners who received Opiate Substitution Treatment with Methadone (detox, stabilisation, maintenance) in the last 5 years whilst in prison.

YearNumber of Prisoners
20071,840
20082,014
20092,424
20102,424
20112,241

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