Alcohol treatment surges in south-east region

From the Irish Examiner

The number of people being treated for alcohol and cannabis abuse has surged in the south-east, figures show.

Abuse of benzodiaze-pines  — legal tranquillisers  — has risen, while heroin treatment numbers have dropped after several years of growth.

HSE figures for the south-east region  — covering Wexford, Waterford, Kilkenny, Carlow, and South Tipperary  — show there was an increase of 6% in treatment cases, although it said there might be some overcounting.

There were 225 juveniles under the age of 18 and 680 young people aged 18 to 24 treated for alcohol or drug misuse, representing 30% of all those treated.

Nine out of ten of those treated lived in  “stable accommodation ”, but six in ten were unemployed.

The data is contained in the  ‘Data Co-ordination Overview of Drug Misuse 2011 ’, covering the south-east HSE region.

Key figures in the 153-page report show:

* There were 3,736 treatment cases in 2011, representing 3,022 people, a 6% rise on 2010;

* 1,039 cases were treated in Waterford, 966 in Wexford, 871 in South Tipperary, 440 in Kilkenny, and 420 in Carlow;

* Of the 3,022 people, men accounted for 69% of clients and women 31%;

* 93% of people lived in stable accommodation, while 3% were homeless or living in an institution;

* 59% were unemployed, 16% were in paid employment, 8% were students, 8% were unable to work or retired, 5% were in training, and 5% were housewives/husbands.

The report said alcohol continued to be the dominant problem drug and the situation had worsened.

 “Alcohol remained the main problematic substance treated in the south-east in 2011, ” the report states.  “Alcohol as the main problem substance has increased by 15% between 2010 to 2011, an increase of 240 individuals. ”

The report, compiled by Martina Kidd, said heroin had become the second most treated drug between 2008 and 2010.

However, cannabis took over second position in 2011 as treatment for it went up and treatment for heroin fell, putting it in third place.

Waterford was the only county reporting a rise in heroin treatment, with 146 people, up from 139 in 2010.

The study said the sharp drop in cocaine treatment continued with a 32% fall. But misuse of benzodiaze-pines jumped by 21%.

A total of 2,172 people were treated for alcohol in 2011, including 1,830 people for whom it was their main problem drug and 342 people for whom it was a secondary problem drug.

Of these, 1,079 were dependent users, 633 were harmful drinkers (usage that was already damaging health), and 451 were hazardous drinkers (level of drinking that increased risk of harm).

There were 362 people who had injected drugs at some stage, 130 of whom had done so in the last month. Of the 362 people, 179 had shared injecting equipment.

Problem drugs: Main offenders

* Alcohol: 1,830 people in HSE treatment in 2011, up 15%.
* Cannabis: 498 in treatment, a rise of 11%.
* Heroin: 461 in treatment, down 14%.
* Heroin: An additional 51 people were treated by GPs, up 11%.
* Cocaine: 81 in treatment, a 32% drop.
* Benzodiazepines: 63 in treatment, a jump of 21%.
* 19 people were treated for headshop drugs, 12 for amphetamines, nine for ecstasy and seven for volatile inhalants.
* Alcohol accounted for 61% of all cases, cannabis 16% and heroin 15%.