ONE in seven inmates in Cork prison are on methadone.
According to figures released by Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan, 41 inmates of the prison were on the drug on October 31.
There were 299 inmates in the prison on that date, meaning those on methadone represented 13.7% of the prison population.
He provided the information in response to a question from Deputy John Curran, Fianna Fail's spokesperson for National Drug Policy and Urban Affairs.
Minister Flanagan outlined: "I am informed that whilst prescribing levels for methadone have fluctuated over the past 3 years, the profile of the numbers of prisoners availing of the different treatment options - ie detoxification, maintenance or stabilisation - has remained consistent, with 35% availing of detoxification, 64% availing of maintenance and 1% availing of the stabilisation programme."
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."
According to the figures provided by Minister Flanagan, the Dochas centre for female offenders has the highest percentage of inmates on methadone, at just over 46%. 27.6% of Mountjoy prisoners are on methadone. The lowest rate is in Portlaoise, where just under 4% are on methadone.