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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 2 Dec 1997

Vol. 483 No. 6

Written Answers. - Drug Treatment Services.


429 Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if methadone maintenance or methadone detoxification are available to persons incarcerated in Mountjoy Prison, Dublin 7. [21560/97]

A detoxification programme is well established in Mountjoy Prison. This programme is operated by the medical personnel in the prison and is aimed at weaning addicts off drugs by means of gradually reducing dosages of substitutes such as methadone.

A drug treatment facility has been in operation for some time now at the prison's health care unit. This unit provides for the continuance of methadone maintenance in certain limited cases at present. The feasibility of extending the availability of this form of treatment is under active consideration. In this context it must be borne in mind that any responsible methadone maintenance programme must have regard to safety and therapeutic security considerations, as I am sure the Deputy will appreciate. These considerations are of particular importance in the context of prisons.


430 Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will give details of the number of persons incarcerated in the State's prisons who are users of illegal drugs, for each prison and for each drug. [21561/97]

The precise information requested by the Deputy is not available. To illustrate the extent of drug use among the prison population, the report entitled Mountjoy Prisoners; A Sociological and Criminological Profile, commissioned by my Department and published last June, states that, in the ten years since 1986, the proportion of the prison population that had used drugs other than cannabis more than doubled from 37 per cent to 77 per cent and the proportion that could be described as having a serious dependency on a hard drug also more than doubled from 31 per cent to 63 per cent.


431 Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the plans, if any, he has to expand the number of places available in the drug free unit and the drug treatment facility in Mountjoy prison, Dublin 7. [21562/97]

The drug treatment unit has been in operation in Mountjoy prison's health care unit since July 1996 and a drug free regime has been in place in the training unit, which is adjacent to Mountjoy prison, since June 1996. The operation of both the drug treatment unit and the drug free unit is in the process of being reviewed in the light of experience gained since these facilities commenced operation, particularly with a view to increasing the number of places available in the drug treatment unit in Mountjoy prison. In addition the establishment of dedicated drug free facilities in other institutions is being examined.