Speaking this morning, Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall TD called for “the principle of recovery to be put at the centre of drug treatment services.”

Addressing the inaugural International Recovery Conference in Trinity College Dublin, Deputy Shortall outlined the value of moving beyond harm reduction and towards an approach that supports long term recovery from addiction. The conference has been organised by the Recovery Academy in Ireland.

Deputy Shortall explained: “Too often we consign people with drug addiction to treatment services that don’t offer them much more than methadone maintenance. While methadone or other drug substitutes have a role to play in assisting people to come off heroin, it should not be regarded as long term treatment.

“However, there are currently over 9,600 people on methadone maintenance, many of whom have been on that treatment for up to 10 years and in some cases even longer. Stabilising people on methadone should only be the start of a process, a process that should support them back into recovery from addiction.”

“We know there are many, often very complex, factors which lead to a person becoming addicted. It is only when these underlying factors are addressed properly that people can move towards a life free from addiction. That means providing access to appropriate counselling, addressing educational and training needs, and putting in place the kinds of supports which will assist people back to a full and drug free life.

“This also requires a belief among service providers that recovery is possible and a determination to encourage confidence in the client that recovery is attainable. This recovery based approach to addiction is now supported and practiced across many countries. Here in Ireland it is very much advocated by many working in the field, but is also an approach called for by clients themselves, and their families and communities.”

“At a policy making level there is an urgent need to be much more ambitions for those struggling with addiction. We need to recognise the untapped potential of those locked into treatment and ensure that they are supported in a clear path to a full and productive life,” concluded Deputy Shortall.

ENDS

8 September 2017