Published: 01 September 2009
Trends in treated problem opiate use in Ireland, 2002 to 2007
The data presented in this paper describe trends in treated problem opiate use in Ireland between 2002 and 2007. The paper describes treated problem opiate use in relation to person, place and time. The analysis presented is based on data reported to the National Drug Treatment Reporting System (NDTRS). It is important to note that the NDTRS collects data on episodes of treatment in a calendar year, rather than on the individual person treated. This means that individuals may appear in the figures more than once if they receive treatment at more than one centre, or at the same centre more than once per year. The main findings and their implications are:
In 2007, 11,538 cases were treated for problem opiate use, of whom 66% were cases continuing in methadone treatment from the preceding calendar year and carried forward on 1 January 2007. The number of cases carried forward increased by 36% in the reporting period. During the lifetime of the National Drugs Strategy (2001?2007), an additional 2,680 methadone places were created, which represents an increase in places of 54%.
The number of opiate cases entering treatment increased by 22%, from 3,202 in 2002 to 3,895 in 2007. The number of previously treated cases increased by 15%, from 2,252 in 2002 to 2,598 in 2007, while the number of new cases increased by 42%, from 809 in 2002 to 1,151 in 2007. The increase in numbers could be explained by an increase in problematic opiate use in the population, an increase in the number of service providers reporting treated cases to the NDTRS, an increase in the provision of opiate services, or, most likely, a combination of these three factors.
The number of cases who reported opiates as their main problem substance, increased by 16%, from 3,077 in 2002 to 3,575 in 2007. The number of cases who reported opiates as an additional problem substance increased by 6%, from 713 in 2002 to 757 in 2007.