Because we are often the first place people with problematic drug use turn to for help, the Health Promotion Unit (HPU) is an important part of early intervention. The key drug services that the HPU offers include providing people who use drugs with information about the risks associated with drug use and the means to minimize such risks. Merchants Quay Ireland offers people who use drugs a pathway into treatment and the possibility of living life without drugs, through our various addiction recovery services.
Our focus is on reducing the harm associated with injecting drug use, generating the motivation to become drug-free, giving advice on HIV and hepatitis prevention and providing information on overdose.
MQI also provides addiction counselling in nine prisons nationwide.
On average, one person dies of a drug overdose every day in Ireland – one of the highest rates of overdose deaths across the EU (EMCDDA, 2016). MQI is part of the Quality Advisory Group aiming to reduce Ireland’s tragic rate of annual drug deaths by rolling out access to a medication that can reverse an overdose as it is happening. It is an antidote for opioid overdose, in that it reverses the depressant effects of opiates such as heroin. Our hope is that eventually, all drug users in Ireland and their families will have access to this life-saving drug and it will be a key element of drug services in Ireland.
Into Education and Employment
As part of our Community Employment Scheme (DSP), we provide a stabilisation programme which offers structured life skills training, personal development work and therapeutic groups to help people who use drugs reintegrate into society. Life skills course content covers art therapy, cooking, drama, yoga, gardening, history, maths, & social outings. The group using this service are younger people, 83% of participants are aged between 18-39. The group seeks to establish a regular pattern of discipline and daily attendance in order to help people stabilise their drug use and prepare people for mainstream training and employment.
We are so grateful to our donors and ‘Business in the Community’ for helping us to provide work experience opportunities for those on the stabilisation program. Having a job and the means to pay rent are vital in helping people feel normal and part of the community.
In 2016, 48 individuals participated in the programme with attendance up 63% in the second half of the year (780 attendances compared with 478 for the same period in 2015). Not everybody stays with the program and some relapse into chaotic drug use. However, many people do progress to training, work experience or more structured abstinence-based treatment.
The pre-entry group provides support in maintaining stability and abstinence and preparation for the culture and workings of residential therapeutic community treatment. Knowing how treatment centres operate can make it less daunting for those who have no experience and can help them to stay the course and be successful in treatment.
In November 2016, Merchants Quay Ireland was awarded the contract to provide a community-based Drug & Alcohol treatment support service for individuals over 18 years and their families for the Midlands area to include Longford, Westmeath, Laois & Offaly. This drugs service will complement and enhance existing statutory, community and voluntary services operating in the region. The service will provide appropriate interventions to over 18’s and their families, in line with the best international research and standards.