Some Irish Addicts Forced to Wait Years for Methadone

In some areas of Ireland, opiate addicts who are seeking methadone treatment are asked to wait for as long as 24 months. Even in Dublin, which has greater services for drug users, waiting times in some areas average 27 weeks.

Tony Geoghegan, the director of Merchant Quay Ireland, Ireland's largest voluntary drug treatment organization, expressed his frustration at the lengthy waiting lists for methadone treatment in a May 5 article in the Irish Times. "What the state is saying to people is that they want to engage with addicts and get them into treatment, but then when they do go seeking it the State is saying 'Go back out and use illicitly because we can’t give you a service yet,'" Geoghegan told Times writer Kitty Holland.

In many parts of the country, Geoghegan said, addicts who decide to get clean don’t even bother signing up for treatment, because they know that the waiting lists are so long that their request is pointless. He added that the conflicting nature of drug addiction, where part of a person wants change and part of a person wants to keep on getting high, makes it vital that services be available for people at times when they want them.

Areas of the Ireland with particularly long waiting lists include Waterford, with a waiting time of 24 months, Drogheda, with a waiting time of 13 months and Carlow, with a waiting time of seven months.

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