Increase in the number of prisoners in Cork being treated for addictions

Increase in the number of prisoners in Cork being treated for addictions

Any person entering Cork Prison giving a history of opiate use and testing positive for opioids is offered a medically assisted symptomatic detoxification. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

THE number of inmates in Cork prison on methadone programmes increased significantly last year, according to figures from the Irish Prison Service.

The figures showed that 257 inmates in the prison received methadone treatment last year for heroin addiction – up from 180 the previous year; 141 in 2016, and 107 in 2015.

According to the Irish Prison Service, "Any person entering prison giving a history of opiate use and testing positive for opioids is offered a medically assisted symptomatic detoxification if clinically indicated." 

"Patients can discuss other treatment options with healthcare staff. These may include stabilisation on methadone maintenance for persons who wish to continue on maintenance while in prison and when they return to the community on release."

“Prisoners who, on committal to prison, are engaged in a methadone substitution programme in the community will, in the main, have their methadone substitution treatment continued while in prison.” The figures were provided on foot of a question submitted by Fianna Fáil’s Deputy John Curran.

Minister Flanagan said: “I am informed that while prescribing levels for methadone have fluctuated over the past five years, the profile of the numbers of prisoners availing of the different treatment options - i.e. detoxification, maintenance or stabilisation - has remained consistent, with 35% availing of detoxification, 64% availing of maintenance and 1% availing of the stabilisation programme.” Heroin remains an issue on Cork’s streets, with large seizures of more than €100,000 and €300,000 in the city in recent months.

The issue was also raised in the Dáil in September by Sinn Féin’s Jonathan O’Brien, while there have also been incidents of heroin paraphernalia being found in public places in the city. Earlier this year, there were two incidents where children found syringes – one in Togher and one on Grattan Street.

And in another recent incident, a child found two wraps of heroin on a footpath in a Knocknaheeny housing estate.

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