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Cut of 19% in addiction counsellors since 2006 ‘unacceptable’ – Buckley

10 May, 2017 - by Pat Buckley TD

Sinn Féin deputy spokesperson on Mental Health Pat Buckley TD has condemned the Government for failing to deliver adequate addiction counselling services. He was responding to a reply to a parliamentary question which revealed a nearly 19% decrease in the number of addition counsellors working for the HSE across the state.

Deputy Buckley said:

“Addiction remains a major issue in terms of public health but particularly mental health. According to the British Department of Health research, 44% of people using mental health services have a drug or alcohol abuse problem. Nearly 80% of people seeking help for drug or alcohol were found to have a mental illness also.

“The All-Ireland Drug Use Survey carried out recently found that drug use rose between 2010 and 2015. Nearly 1 in every 100 people between the ages of 15 and 34 had used heroin in the previous 12 months and nearly 3% had used some form of cocaine.

“Alcohol misuse and addiction is rife throughout the country especially among younger people. Approximately 48% of sixth years at second level and over 60% of young adults reported drinking behaviour outside of the normal range according to the My World Survey of Irish 12-25 year olds.

“Substance misuse and addiction is very damaging to our mental health. It can seriously exacerbate mental health problems and make it very hard to seek help. We must ensure that anyone who does step forward to courageously address their problem receives the best help possible.

“We need a mental health service which does not refuse people because they have a substance abuse problem; this is simply unworkable and nonsensical. We also need to ensure that when someone comes looking for help there are well trained addiction counsellors in place locally to help.

“There are now roughly 29 less whole time equivalent addiction counsellor positions in across the state than there were in 2006. There has been a small increase in the last 2 years but it is not enough.

“In North Dublin, there are now half the number of addiction counsellor there were 11 years ago. If we continue to remove resources after a devastating decade of cuts to community and social services in deprived areas, we will only see the problem get worse.” 

Note: Please see the PQ in question attached 

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