Dáil debates

Thursday, 21 November 2019

Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate

Drug Treatment Programmes Funding

4:20 pm

Photo of Catherine ByrneCatherine Byrne (Dublin South Central, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I thank Deputy O'Dowd for raising this issue. I understand that the issue of drug abuse is of great concern to him and the local community. I share many of his concerns. I have visited the north east on several occasions and met service providers there. I know they are working in partnership locally to address these serious issues.

Expenditure by the HSE on drug and alcohol services across the country increased from €94 million in 2016 to more than €100 million in 2018. The funding is used by the HSE to deliver a wide range of services, including early intervention, treatment and rehabilitation. In addition, the Department supports the drug and alcohol task forces. It provides €28 million to them each year through various channels of funding, including the HSE. This funding supports more than 280 community projects prioritised by drug task forces in local areas and communities throughout the country. The North Eastern Regional Drug and Alcohol Task Force receives almost €928,000 of this funding.

Earlier this year, I was pleased to secure additional funding of €1 million to implement key actions in the national drugs strategy. From this funding, the Department of Health provided the North Eastern Regional Drug and Alcohol Task Force with an additional €20,000 to support its work, 50% of which is recurring on an annual basis. The funding can be used to enhance services and meet operating costs. The Department is also providing an additional €190,000 over a three-year period for rehabilitation and aftercare support for users of drug and alcohol services in the midlands, Louth and Meath community healthcare area. This initiative will enhance services for people who have dual diagnoses of mental health challenges and substance abuse or who have experience of trauma.

Recent data from the Health Research Board indicates that there were 10,274 cases availing of drug treatment services in Ireland in 2018, an increase of 1,300 or 15% on 2017. The proportion of new cases presenting in 2018 was 39%, up from 37% in 2017. The increase in the number seeking treatment is encouraging from a public health perspective.

The HSE and the North Eastern Regional Drug and Alcohol Task Force support two front-line drug services in Drogheda, namely, HSE Donore Road and the Red Door project. HSE services recently relocated to the Donore Road, Drogheda, following a €425,000 capital refurbishment. This has led to an improvement in the physical environment for service users and staff located there. A community methadone programme, a substance use service for teens and a social inclusion service are currently provided from the location.

The Red Door project receives funding of €149,000 per year and aims to provide confidential assistance and services to individuals, families and communities affected by drug and alcohol use. The project provides access to a community links worker, a drop-in service, a special rehabilitative community employment scheme and a sexual health screening clinic run by HIV Ireland. It also hosts group therapy programmes and Merchants Quay Ireland utilises it to provide a needle exchange service.

The HSE also supports other services such as the family addiction support network, the ISPCC and Turas Dundalk. The HSE constantly reviews its budget. In recent weeks, it provided additional funding of almost €85,000 to projects in the area, including the Red Door project, Turas, the family addiction support network, Dundalk Simon Community, the ISPCC and Merchants Quay Ireland. It has appointed a senior counsellor to provide governance of counsellors and counselling services.


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