Tuesday, 2 December 1997
Dáil Éireann Debate
420. Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will give details of the resources he has made available for the treatment of drug addicts in prison for each of the years from 1990 to date in 1997. [21551/97]
Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. O'Donoghue): The drug treatment unit based at Mountjoy Prison's health care unit which was opened in July 1996 was the first dedicated facility for the treatment of drug addicted offenders in any of our prisons. The treatment  unit provides a structured detoxification programme followed by a six week therapeutic course. The unit has medical, nursing and psychiatric services in place and all personnel are experienced in addiction treatment. The therapy programme is co-ordinated by a senior probation and welfare officer and draws on the experience and expertise of a number of community based agencies which are active in this field.
A drug free unit, based at the training unit which is adjacent to Mountjoy Prison, has been in operation since June 1996. It currently accommodates over 90 offenders in an environment where a drug free existence has become the norm. Prisoners with a background of chronic drug abuse who have come to terms with their addiction, as well as those who have had no prior involvement with drugs, are availing of this facility. The regimes in the health care unit and the drug free unit are underpinned by a strict drug urine testing programme. These initiatives have been developed in response to a real demand for treatment and avoidance options for prisoners. They are working well and I intend to expand and develop both models throughout the wider prison system in order to maximise their effect and availability.
In all institutions treatment for drug addicted offenders has been and continues to be provided as part of the general medical services available to all inmates. Any offender who is willing to make a real effort to stop abusing drugs and who shows the necessary commitment and motivation will be supported by appropriate medical intervention and therapeutic counselling. It is unfortunately the case that despite the availability of the treatment options which I have outlined above, many offenders continue to fail to grasp the opportunities provided to address their addiction.
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