35% of Cork prison population seeking drug treatment in jail

35% of Cork prison population seeking drug treatment in jail

There are 48 inmates of Cork Prison on a waiting list for methadone treatment for opioid addiction, while a further 47 are being treated for it.

MORE than a third of inmates at Cork Prison are either getting methadone treatment for opioid addiction or are on a waiting list for treatment.

There are 48 inmates of Cork Prison on a waiting list for methadone treatment for opioid addiction, while a further 47 are being treated for it.

That is according to the most recent figures available from the Department of Justice, for March 1, when there were 267 inmates in the prison.

Those on the waiting list and those receiving the treatment combine to make up 35% of the prison population.

There are currently 522 prisoners in receipt of methadone across the entire prison system.

Criminologist and presenter of The Two Norries podcast James Leonard, who is a recovering heroin addict, said the provision of methadone to heroin addicts in prison is as important as providing insulin to diabetics.

He said he was not on methadone when he was imprisoned and, as a result, he suffered major withdrawal symptoms from heroin when in prison.

He added: “It is much more humane now.”

In providing details of methadone treatment in prisons across the system in a parliamentary question, Justice Minister Helen McEntee said: “Merchants Quay Ireland’s prison-based addiction counselling teams provide support to prisoners with substance use issues within the prison system.

“They offer counselling, group work and advice with a focus on harm reduction and developing care plans for post-release.

“Counsellors can be accessed directly in each prison or through any Irish Prison Service healthcare team member.

“There are currently 20 whole-time equivalent addiction counsellors employed across the prison estate. The average time spent waiting to see a counsellor is six weeks.

“However, a vulnerable prisoner will be seen much quicker if recommended by the Prison Nursing Staff.”

She added: “It is the case that significant numbers of people committed to prison have issues with drug addiction.

“While the Prison Service does not have an exact figure on the number of people in custody with addiction issues, past research suggests that approximately 70% of people in custody have a history of drug or alcohol addiction.”

Ms McEntee revealed: “While prescribing levels for methadone have fluctuated over the past three 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.

“This has also been the experience over the last 12 months, ie during the Covid pandemic.”

More in this section

Sponsored Content

summersoaplogosml

Catch up on the latest episode of Annie May and the Hit Brigade written and read by  Mahito Indi Henderson.

Add Echolive.ie to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more