Fianna Fáil TD for Dublin Mid-West, John Curran has expressed concern regarding the lack of integrated care plans in place to support those on Methadone for prolonged periods of time to rehabilitate and recover from drug dependence.

The Deputy recently received figures from the Health Service Executive which reveal that 4,069 of the 10,316 people who are in receipt of Methadone treatment in Ireland are on this treatment for 10 years or more.

The figures also indicate that 6,262 people have been on the treatment for 5 years or more, indicating a further rise of 494 people since 2016.

Deputy Curran commented, “Methadone is the most common treatment for heroin addiction in Ireland but there is often a misconception that it is a suitable long term treatment.

“While it might be a less dangerous alternative it is important we recognise that it is itself a synthetic opioid that can be harmful when abused. In fact, according to the Health Research Board, Methadone was implicated in a quarter of overdoses in Ireland in 2015.

“The number of those on Methadone without a patient centred care plan continues to rise which means there’s no progressive pathway for people who are on Methadone to ween off it entirely and lead a drug free life.

“This is particularly concerning given that approximately 71 teenagers have entered Methadone substitution programmes in this country since 2016. It is critical that the expectation is to ensure these young people are prescribed Methadone in accordance with a plan to become drug free.

“In the past two years the number of people who have been receiving Methadone for over ten years has increased by over 400. Over time Methadone appears to have become a means of controlling criminality rather than the bridge away from addiction that it was once intended to be.

“There are serious ethical questions to be raised regarding the prolonged supply of Methadone without patient care plans. The State has an absolute obligation to facilitate effective referral pathways and continuity of care for these patients.

“I am calling on the Minister to review the Government’s approach and place a greater emphasis on rehabilitation with a view to getting more people off Methadone on a long term basis,” concluded Deputy Curran.