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Teenagers among thousands getting addiction treatment

Almost 20 Irish teenagers were admitted for treatment for addictions in the first three months of the year.

New Health Service Executive figures revealed that 18 young people, aged between 16 and 19, were received into the HSE's addiction programmes.

Overall, more than 4,450 adult substance abusers commenced treatment in 2013, according to the Medical 
Independent.

In 2013, treatment for alcohol addiction was most in demand with 2,115 users, according to HSE figures released to the Medical Independent under a Freedom of Information 
request.

The next largest group to receive treatment were heroin addicts, followed by those addicted to other illicit drugs.

There were also a number of patients treated for addiction to over-the-counter medications.

On a quarterly basis, the number of people beginning addiction treatment following assessment increased during 2013, with a figure of 1,228 in December.

Growth.

The majority of those who began treatment were in the South region, followed by Dublin Mid Leinster, HSE West and finally Dublin North East.

The HSE's National Social Inclusion Office supplied information on the age profile of those in treatment as at the end of March this year.

Of the 9,698 people in addiction treatment, most were in their 30s. More than 2,800 were between the ages of 35 and 39 and 2,128 were between 30 and 34.

The National Drug Treatment Centre Central Treatment List showed continued growth over the years. The overall number of patients was 9,251 in 2011, in 2012 it was 9,419, and last year it rose to 9,652.

Dr Garrett McGovern, a Dublin-based GP specialising in alcohol and substance abuse, told the Medical Independent that the Government needed to "invest more money in treating drug users in primary care".

Addiction treatment services were not satisfactory throughout Ireland.

Heroin

More general practitioners should be encouraged to take an interest addiction treatments, he said.

"Even for heroin addiction, services are poor outside Dublin and the need is not being met," said Dr McGovern.

Meanwhile, around 3pc of Irish teens have said they have tried cocaine. New research on cocaine use in the European Union revealed that Irish teens were among the highest users among European teens.

But the number jumps when it comes to experimentation with cannabis - almost one-in -five said they have tried the drug.

Almost a quarter of European teenagers have dabbled in illegal drugs at some point or other - with cannabis being the most widely used.

Cocaine is now the most widely available illegal drug in Europe with 2.2 million users in the 15 to 34 age group.

aokeeffe@herald.ie


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