Pubdate: Fri, 28 Jul 2000
Source: Irish Times, The (Ireland)
Copyright: 2000 The Irish Times
Contact:  11-15 D'Olier St, Dublin 2, Ireland
Fax: + 353 1 671 9407
Author: Kitty Holland


Government policies on reducing the demand for drugs have not failed and
future policies will embrace a wider range of treatment options, the
chairman of the National Drugs Strategy Review has said.

The Minister of State, Mr Eoin Ryan, was reacting to the annual report from
the State's largest voluntary drug treatment centre. Published yesterday,
the Merchant's Quay report says there was a 28 per cent rise in the number
of new drug addicts presenting for treatment. It saw 650 new clients in

The report notes an increase of 22 per cent in the number of deaths recorded
as drug related by the Dublin City and County Coroners between 1998 and

The project's director, Mr Tony Geoghegan, said there was "clearly an
increase" in the number of people starting to use heroin.

"As regards the number of treatment places available, things are obviously
better than they were five years ago, but there are about 7,000 to 8,000
addicts still outside treatment."

He said that even if 7,000 to 8,000 new treatment places were provided, it
would be questionable whether many addicts would access them.

Referring to treatment regimes which penalise addicts who relapse, or who
are found with alcohol or other drugs in their urine, he said many addicts
felt "judged" by such programmes.

"They [clinics] don't vary the programmes, don't ask the addict what suits
them. The clinics and those devising treatment programmes should be trying
to engage with the addicts."

Attracting younger addicts into treatment might require "lowering
expectations", he said.

Mr Ryan said a "huge" amount had been done over the past five years to
address the issue of drug misuse.

"Obviously issues such as the need for a greater range of treatment options
are being identified in the review."

He said the review, which reports in October, was examining a "wider and
more comprehensive range of treatment options".

Meanwhile, the National Advisory Committee on Drugs, announced last night by
Mr Ryan, will have its first meeting in September.

Mr Ryan said the committee would advise the Government on an ongoing basis
on the prevalence, prevention, treatment and consequences of drug use in

The 19-person committee will be chaired by Dr Des Corrigan, of the
department of pharmacology in Trinity College.
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