Pubdate: Sat, 04 Nov 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


Improved and increased cooperation between the business and the voluntary 
sectors could transform the drug-users of today into the taxpayers of 
tomorrow, a European-funded project has concluded.

The final report from the Integra project, "From Residential Treatment to 
Employment", was published at the Merchants' Quay Project in Dublin 
yesterday. Merchants' Quay is the largest voluntary drug treatment centre 
in the State.

The two-year project was initiated as a result of a gap in drug treatment 
services identified by Merchants' Quay. It aimed to develop a programme 
which would minimise the risk of recovering addicts relapsing.

Two of the main factors which made drug users who had completed residential 
treatment more at risk of going back to drug-use were "the lack of 
employment opportunities and access to secure accommodation", the report says.

The programme, which was supported by SIPTU and IBEC, saw local employers 
"recruited" to a "bank" from which recovering users could get employment. 
Some 49 drug-users took part between 1998 and 1999, with 65 per cent 
completing the programme.

Upon completion of the programme, 94 per cent of clients said they had 
learned new skills, 83 per cent said they had secured the opportunity of 
full-time employment, while 47 per cent rated their chances of remaining 
drug free as "very good".

The director of Merchants' Quay, Mr Tony Geoghegan, said the programme was 
"very successful in demonstrating that former drug users can make a 
significant contribution to business and industry."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Larry Stevens