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Number of primary care addiction counsellors for Dublin North-East plummets – O’Reilly

10 May, 2017 - by Louise O'Reilly TD

Speaking this afternoon, Sinn Féin TD for Dublin Fingal, Louise O’Reilly, has expressed her shock and worry that the number of primary care addiction counsellors for Dublin North-East, which covers her constituency, has plummeted to 16.6.

Deputy O’Reilly said:

“It is incredibly worrying that at a time when we are ever so aware of the dangers of addiction, in both a physical and mental health sense, that the number of addiction counsellors in primary care centres nationally has plunged from 155 in 2006 to just 125.8 in 2017. In the Dublin North-East area, within which Dublin Fingal falls, the number of addiction counsellors has nearly halved in the same period, from 30 down to 16.6.

“Only last year, the Irish Health Research Board supplied figures to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction which showed a rise in the number of drug-treatment cases (existing and new), from 8,684 in 2013 to 9,523 in 2014. Indeed, the same report noted that Ireland had the third highest drug-death rate in the EU, almost four times higher than the EU average.

“Added to this is the constant battle many face with alcohol addiction in the state. Based on the figures in the Health Research Board’s National Alcohol Diary Survey, more than 150,000 Irish people are dependent drinkers, more than a 1.35 million are harmful drinkers, and 30% of people interviewed say that they experienced some form of harm as a result of their own drinking. 

“Moreover, in recent years, gambling addiction has become one of the biggest social issues facing our society. Taking the most recent figure for the number of problem gamblers, 2.3 per cent, from the north of Ireland’s gambling prevalence survey, it is estimated that there could be close to 100,000 problem gamblers in the south of Ireland.

“It is against this backdrop that we must assess the huge drop in addiction counsellors in primary care centres and the damage that such of a lack of personnel is having.

“Furthermore, through a Parliamentary Question released to my colleague Deputy Pat Buckley, it is revealed that the new primary care centre in Balbriggan will have to be staffed from within existing resources. Put simply, this means that the primary care centre will be understaffed for addiction counsellors from the outset.

“In an area with one of the fastest growing populations in Europe and in the face of growing addiction issues adequate funding for the primary care centre in Balbriggan, and in all primary care centres, is a necessity.” 

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