Total of 7,421 cases treated for problem alcohol use in 2022

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There were 7,421 cases treated for problem alcohol use in 2022, with new cases accounting for 44.2% of the total, according to the National Drug Treatment Reporting System (NDTRS) data on Alcohol Treatment for 2022. 

The report, produced by the Health Research Boardalso showed an increase in the number of cases reporting problem use of other drugs in addition to alcohol, rising from 1,628 in 2021 to 1,796 in 2022. Cocaine surpassed cannabis as the most common additional reported drug.

The NDTRS bulletin also revealed that the median age at which cases entered treatment was 42 years. Only 1% of all cases were aged 17 years or younger, a decrease from 1.6% in 2016. Among parents with children aged 17 years or younger, over half (51%) had at least one child residing with them at the time of treatment entry.

The majority (60.2%) of cases were treated in outpatient facilities, with the number of outpatient cases increasing from 4,183 in 2021 to 4,469 in 2022.

Minister for Public Health, Wellbeing and the National Drugs Strategy Hildegarde Naughton said she noted  with great concern that in 2022 so many of those people seeking treatment for alcohol use were parents, so it was essential that alcohol services provided community-based resources to promote recovery and improve wellbeing.

“For this reason, funding has continued to increase in order to meet this need, with €4 million provided in 2023 to expand community and residential addiction services, among other initiatives.

“Under the Slaintecare Healthy Communities programme, new integrated Alcohol Services are being rolled out in community settings and I’m confident that we will quickly see the benefits of these vital supports.”

Two new integrated alcohol services are currently being established in Community Healthcare Organisations 3 (Clare, Limerick, Tipperary) and 4 (Kerry and Cork).  In these areas, a community-based team will deliver counselling and psychoeducational interventions to adults with problematic alcohol use, provide family support, and develop integrated alcohol treatment pathways. An evidence review has been commissioned to review effective interventions and is being led by Prof Catherine Comiskey at Trinity College Dublin. 

Funding allocated in 2023 includes €750,000 to mitigate the impact of drugs and alcohol on children, families and communities, €900,000 to ensure sustainability and to increase capacity of residential treatment services, €850,000 to expand integrated care pathways for high-risk drug and alcohol users, including gender-specific services and €1m to strengthen monitoring of emerging drug trends and to expand community-based services. 

The NDTRS is the national surveillance system that records and reports on cases of drug and alcohol treatment in Ireland.