'It’s time to listen to the experts': Cork TD urges government to view addiction as a health issue

'It’s time to listen to the experts': Cork TD urges government to view addiction as a health issue

Sinn Fein TD Thomas Gould. Pic; Larry Cummins

ADDICTION has been approached for too long as a criminal issue instead of a health issue with wider community impact.

That is according to SF spokesman on Addiction, Recovery and Wellbeing, Deputy Thomas Gould, ahead of the launch of the party’s Community Addiction and Recovery Strategy today.

Deputy Gould said: “For far too long, governments have approached addiction as an issue of criminality and by focusing on individuals, at the expense of realising the wider community impact and health issues involved. They have also failed to give this important issue the attention, care, and funding it deserves. I believe this is an outdated model which must be updated for the 21st century.”

He said addicts deserve support to help them towards recovery.

“Our proposals incorporate a community-led model, which views addiction as a healthcare issue. It’s time to listen to the experts and view addiction as a healthcare issue. This is the best way to ensure people get the help that they need to recover.

“Dual Diagnosis is a diagnosis whereby people have both a mental health diagnosis and an addiction diagnosis. For too long, lip-service has been played to the need for Dual Diagnosis Services, but no government action has been taken. 

"A Dual Diagnosis Working Group was established in 2017 and yet there still is no state-wide service. Sinn Féin would end this shameful impasse and deliver Dual Diagnosis Services.”

Gambling is also in the strategy, with the party pledging to establish a Gambling Prevalence Survey to ascertain levels of need.

“We would also move the issue of gambling addiction to the remit of the Department of Health and bring forward a Gambling Control Bill. Our proposals also outline how we would move away from over-governance and towards a model of community-led sustainability and recovery that would allow the identification and tackling of area-specific issues.”

The policy document also pledges to ring-fence a percentage of money from Criminal Asset Bureau seizures for Drug and Alcohol Taskforces.

Deputy Gould said his party’s approach to addiction would also include the establishment of a women’s One Stop Shop to support the most vulnerable women in addiction in accessing many of the much-needed services in one place.

“Too often women especially struggle to match caring roles with the numerous appointments and this one stop shop will consolidate these so that everything from healthcare to social welfare support can be found in one place.”

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