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Irish Examiner: 'Almost 1,200 prisoners avail of drug counselling'

4th January 2011

Writing in the Irish Examiner, Noel Baker reports that 1,200 prisoners are now accessing drug counselling in prison, while 34 people are on a waiting list for drug treatment programmes. 23 of these are in Mountjoy; 3 in the Midlands Prison; 6 in Wheatfield and 6 in Cloverhill.

The new figures from the Irish Prison Service revealed that over the course of 2010, 1,196 prisoners engaged with the Merchants Quay Addiction Counselling Service.

A spokesman for the prison service indicated that some on waiting lists for treatment cannot begin on methadone due to the lack of a community placement. The article cites the prison service drug treatment clinical policy: "Before a methadone maintenance programme is initiated a treatment place must be sought from, and confirmed with, the community agency who will provide follow-up care and methadone prescribing on release from prison."

Methadone maintenance is available in eight of the 14 prisons accounting for over 75% of the prison population. Currently, there is no methadone service provision in Cork Prison. However, this is likely to begin by the middle of 2011.

Currently, there are just 9 places available in the prison system for a therapeutic drug-free programme; these are in Mountjoy Prison.

There are drug-free units in Wheatfield Prison, St Patrick’s Institution, Castlerea Prison and Mountjoy Prison; inmates who wish to remain substance-free can able to apply for transfer to these units. 

Read the Irish Examiner article in full here.

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