Pubdate: Sun, 09 Apr 2006
Source: Sunday Times (UK)
Copyright: 2006 Times Newspapers Ltd.
Authors: Enda Leahy, Kate Butler
Bookmark: (Cannabis)
Bookmark: (Heroin)


DRUG-RELATED admissions to Ireland's psychiatric hospitals have more  
than doubled since 1990, according to a new report on psychiatric  

While approximately 105 patients were admitted to psychiatric  
hospitals with drug-related disorders 16 years ago, this had  
increased to more than 294 in 2001. The stabilisation of admissions  
since has been credited to an increase in the community services that  
treat drug addiction.

"It's simply mirroring what's going on in the community," said Dermot  
Walsh, one of the authors of Activities of Irish Psychiatric Services  
2004, published by the Health Research Board. "There's been an  
increase in illegal drug use."

Although the study offers no breakdown of what drugs are being used  
by those admitted to psychiatric hospitals, Jean Long, a senior  
researcher in HRB, believes that they are similar to those found by  
community services.

"The most common drug-related problem, after alcohol, is cannabis,  
then opiates, then probably cocaine," she said. "Cannabis and opiates  
would be by far the most common."

Siobhan Barry, clinical director at the Cluain Mhuire drug addiction  
treatment centre, agrees that cannabis is the most prevalent drug  
among admission cases. "Cannabis use increases the likelihood in  
certain people of having a psychotic episode," she said. "People who  
are already vulnerable to psychosis will have it triggered off by  
cannabis. People with a mental health problem are also more likely to  
seek solace in cannabis."

Barry said a study in 1997 showed that 40% of mostly young people who  
suffered their first psychotic episode had used cannabis in the days  
before the breakdown.

An increase in community services means that psychiatric hospitals  
are less likely to deal with addiction-only cases. "There has been  
drop in admissions from 2002, a kind of stabilisation," says Long.  
"This reflects the increasing number of community services available  
to drug users, rather than being inappropriately admitted to hospital."

Although drug-abuse is the primary reason for the admissions in this  
study, Long said that there is also a proportion of dual-diagnoses.

"The primary reason for admission, obviously because this is what the  
analysis is based on, is drug-related," said Long. "I believe a  
number of them do have dual diagnosis - they do have other mental  
health problems even though the main problem would be drug-related."

The symptoms of drug-related psychotic episodes depend on the type of  
drug, and also if there is interaction with a psychiatric disease.
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