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Written Answers. - Drug Rehabitation Programme.

Wednesday, 12 June 1996

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 466 No. 7

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[1891]

 75. Mr. Kirk Information on Seamus Kirk Zoom on Seamus Kirk  asked the Minister for Health Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan  if his attention has been drawn to the community-based drug rehabilitation programme referred to in a recent newspaper article (details supplied); if his Department has had an opportunity to evaluate its potential for encouragement in Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12287/96]

Minister for Health (Mr. Noonan,: Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan Limerick East): I have read the article in the Sunday Independent of 2 June, which makes the argument for the running of treatment programmes which would involve “registered addicts obtaining heroin for free.” The Government announced a package of demand reduction measures to prevent drug misuse on the 20 February 1996. Included in these measures was a clear statement that “no steps should be taken to legalise or decriminalise the use of “soft drugs” such as cannabis”. The Government has, therefore, no plans to change the legal position on any such drug, including heroin.

 76. Mr. Kirk Information on Seamus Kirk Zoom on Seamus Kirk  asked the Minister for Health Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan  if he is satisfied himself with the effectiveness of the methadone treatment for drug addicts; if his attention has been drawn to any reservations in relation to this treatment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12288/96]

Minister for Health (Mr. Noonan,: Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan Limerick East): Methadone maintenance is one of the most successful treatment programmes for heroin addiction. Studies have shown that it is extremely difficult to fully rehabilitate persons addicted to heroin, but methadone maintenance programmes make a significant improvement in health and behaviour of such persons, with consequential benefits to them, their families and society in general. There are, in addition, considerable public health benefits, with a reduction in the risk of [1892] spreading HIV and hepatitis C. The level of drug-related crime also reduces. I am aware that reservations are expressed about methadone maintenance as a form of treatment but I am satisfied that it is a valid part of multi faceted treatment programmes.


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