GAMBLING addiction among young people is on the rise and regulation is needed to address this growing problem, according to an addiction therapy expert.
Michael Guerin of Cuan Mhuire highlighted this issue as the addiction treatment charity officially opened its new step-down facility on the Western Road.
The three-storey former bed-and-breakfast was the subject of a drawn-out battle over funding that led to it lying idle for more than a decade. The Teach Mhuire site was refurbished by Cuan Mhuire 12 years ago but they were unable to obtain the €300,000 in annual funding required to run it.
The HSE finally granted funding late last year and the house opened its doors in January. Mr Guerin said it has been operating at full capacity since then.
“This addition of 16 beds at Western Road brings the organisation’s bed capacity for step-down to 114 beds nationally, which in 2019 will deliver approximately 35,000 bed nights to those who are in early recovery from addiction and are homeless,” he said.
“A number of residents have already completed their stay and have moved on to independent living. In common with all our step-down facilities there are waiting lists to access the service.”
Addressing attendees at the official opening, he highlighted the need for further funding for addiction treatment and said the charity is seeing a worrying increase in gambling.
“Looking forward, Cuan Mhuire is aware of the increase in demand for its services,” he said.
“Cocaine dependence has been very evident in 2019 so far, mostly co-existing with alcohol dependence or as part of an overarching polysubstance misuse issue in younger people. The emergence of more and more problems with the prescription medication pregabalin and crack cocaine dependence are also noteworthy.
“Alcohol dependence continues to be the most prevalent presenting primary addiction.
“However, the most concerning anecdotal reports we are receiving from our centres is the dramatic rise in those seeking help for problematic gambling, particularly under the age of 30.
“The present government has been innovative in its attitude to addiction and its consequences. We are happy to see that an examination is being conducted into Ireland’s laws on possession of drugs and that the emphasis for those who are addicted is shifting from punitive to rehabilitative. We await progress in the area of gambling regulation and hope that its reform and progress will lead to the establishment of a direct funding mechanism for the treatment of problematic gambling to community and voluntary treatment providers such as ourselves.”
Mr Guerin highlighted the strong link between homelesssness and addiction and said Cuan Mhuire worked to get people into its care as soon as they sought assistance.
“Cuan Mhuire provided 174,793 bed nights to those who sought its help in 2018, which represents an increase of 2% on 2017,” he said.
“Approximately 30% of its residents were homeless on admission. In keeping with our ethos of providing care to those most marginalised, 93% of those assessed were admitted and nine out of 10 prospective residents were admitted within one week of initial contact.
“In time-honoured tradition, we are proud to report that we still continue the practice of facilitating same day admission where possible as we are acutely aware of the dire situations those seeking our help find themselves in, particularly in light of the undeniable link between homelessness and substance misuse,” said Mr Guerin.