Heroin is the 'drug of choice' for 70pc of women seeking help

Minister of State at the Department of New Communities, Culture and Equality, Aodhan O'Riordain.

Emma Jane Hade

Almost 70pc of women who sought help in a leading treatment centre cited heroin as their "primary drug of choice".

As many as 1,250 addicts were supported by the Coolmine Therapeutic Community for drug addiction last year through their community, day and residential programmes.

More than two-thirds of female admissions were for the residential programme, while just under half - 49pc - of men also opted to stay in the centre. There was a total increase in demand of 31pc.


The number of men and women who confirmed that they were addicted to heroin continued to increase, and almost seven-in-10 of the women and half of the men who were supported in the residential centre last year cited it as their main addiction.

More than 40pc of the day programme users also admitted they were addicted to the class A drug, according to the Coolmine Therapeutic Community 2014 annual report

The leading centre also provides family spaces in the residential centre for women and children - Ashleigh House - and last year two dozen mother and child admissions were supported. Four of the women were pregnant.

The house doubled its occupancy space to 24 last year. And the day services worked with 139 users, an 11pc increase on the previous year.

The programme provides a separate residential treatment house for men, and the report noted that the number of admissions to Coolmine Lodge increased by one-third last year.

According to the document, there were 34 male clients participating in the five-month residential treatment programme at any one time.

Forty-two per cent of the 120 new male admissions were referrals from prison or probation services.

The report, which was launched yesterday by Junior Minister Aodhan O Riordain, also highlighted management's concerns over a strong link "between increased levels of homelessness and relapse".

"Thirty-two mothers and 21 children were homeless or inadequately housed after completing their residential programme in 2014," said Pauline McKeown, chief executive of the service.

"Given the current housing shortage and restrictions for clients not being from the Dublin region, it is a cause for concern as there is a link between increased levels of homelessness and relapse.

"They have no local connection to their resettled area, and are not deemed a priority for housing access."

Almost two-thirds of the women who were treated in Ashleigh House were from outside Dublin, while 50pc of males who were in the Cool- mine Lodge were also from areas outside the capital.

Despite the increase in pressure on the system, chairman Alan Connolly said: "Coolmine maintained the highest possible standards for the care of clients.

"Coolmine's longitudinal outcomes study found that, two years after therapy, 71pc of clients were illicit drug-free, did not engage in crime and 25pc were engaged in employment."

Ms McKeown said they have secured funding to increase the capacity in the female residential home by six, so this year they will be able to treat 24 women at any one time.


The programme also piloted the Community Alcohol Treatment Programme (CATP), which supported 28 individuals who sought treatment.

Ms McKeown said that seven-in-10 successfully completed this programme last year and funding has been secured to maintain it this year.

Their primary objective for 2015 is to secure more funding for services, which also include a 'Recovery through Nature' programme that helped 84 clients last year.

"We need to increase staff, sustain funding for pilot projects and increase our education, arts and career guidance services to ensure our clients have meaningful activity that supports their recovery and allows them to fulfil their real potential," Mr Connolly added.