Pubdate: Sat, 26 Aug 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: Eithne Donnellan


The limited range of drug treatment services available for young people has
been criticised since the death of Kim O'Donovan, the 15-year-old girl who
died from a suspected overdose in Dublin.

Critics say there are gaps in the services, with most drug treatment
facilities geared towards adults rather than teenagers.

Health boards across the State differ in the level of services provided for
this younger age group.

Two in particular, the North Western and Western Health Boards, have said
alcohol is the major form of addiction in their areas, and while addiction
counsellors and youth support workers are available to help teenagers and
design rehabilitation programmes to meet their individual needs, there are
no dedicated residential treatment centres available.

The Midland Health Board said "hard drugs" were not a significant problem in
its region among under-16s.

If any children in this age group sought help, they would be referred to
other health board areas where there were dedicated services to meet their
needs, a spokesman said.

A number of other health boards do have treatment centres for teenagers who
become addicted to drugs, including the South Eastern Health Board which
offers a residential rehabilitation programme for under18s.

The Aislinn Centre in Bally raggett, Co Kilkenny, has 12 places for boys and
girls addicted to illegal drugs, alcohol and gambling.

A health board spokesman said the centre offered a six-week residential
treatment programme, incorporating regular visits from the child's parents,
followed by a two-year after-care programme on an outpatient basis.

It provides services for counties in the SEHB area as well as neighbouring
health board areas. The Southern Health Board is one of those using the
Aislinn Centre. The board also has a number of centres in its own area
providing individual and group therapy sessions for adults and adolescents
with drug addictions. They are located at St Finbarr's Hospital, Cork;
Castleisland, Co Kerry; and at health board centres in Tralee.

Most of the dedicated services for teenagers with drug problems are in the
eastern region, where one-third of the State's population live and where the
problem of addiction to hard drugs among younger age groups is greatest.

The boards have a number of specially dedicated services for teenagers.
These include Fortune House, Ballyfermot, which provides 18 residential
places for detoxification and treatment; the Crinian youth project in the
north inner city, which has 25 places specially tailored for young people
abusing drugs; the Soilse project in the north inner city providing
rehabilitation; and the COLT project in Ballyfermot which is run in
partnership with the Garda and encourages young people to busy themselves
caring for horses.

In the north-east the local health board has both prevention and
intervention programmes in place for teenagers who may be experimenting with
or misusing drugs.

It has a number of outreach workers who provide education, training and
information to young people and a health promotion schools project. It also
has counselling services for those with addiction problems and refers those
needing residential treatment to centres in Dublin and Kilkenny.
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