Noonan introduces schemes to help addicts

 

UP TO 2,000 drug addicts want treatment which the State has not yet provided for them, the Minister for Health said.

Mr Noonan yesterday introduced measures which he said would have "a major impact on reducing the scourge of drug misuse in our society".

They include additional drug treatment facilities, a survey to establish the extent and type of drug abuse in the State, and the appointment of consultants to monitor the effectiveness of proimplemented by the Eastern Health Board.

Responding to in question on treatment waiting lists, the Minister said between 1,500 and 2,000 addicts needed treatment but there had been difficulties in opening clinics for distribution of the heroin substitute, methadone.

We would hope to get more general practitioners involved in methadone," he said. "If we could get 2,000 GPs to take on 10 drug misusers each that would obviously make a big difference."

Mr Noonan said 100 addicts were already being treated by 10 GPs and he hoped to increase the figure.

The EHB's programmes are to be monitored by two international drug experts. Dr Michael Farrell, a consultant psychiatrist based in London, and Dr Emst Buning of the municipal drug services in Amsterdam have started work and are4 to report to EHB management and to the Minister.

The measures announced yesterday will cost about £4 million this year and £6.75 million in a full year, Mr Noonan said.

Many of the measures had already been announced, including a drug abuse programme for primary schools and a TV and radio anti drugs advertising campaign.

New measures include a promise of fuller consultation1 with communities in Dublin before the EHB opens a drug clinic in their area. The Minister said the "nuisance which drug misusers can cause in the vicinity of treatment centres and other locations" would be "alleviated by arrangements to be agreed between the Eastern Health Board and the gardai".

The Minister for Justice, Ms Owen, said there would also be a programme where health board workers would make contact with drug addicts leaving prison so that treatment which would be available to them in prison could be continued.