National Prison Based Addiction Counselling Service


The National Prison Based Addiction Counselling Service operates in eleven prisons across Ireland. Prisoners can benefit from professional addiction counselling through structured assessments and evidence-based counselling interventions with clearly defined treatment plans and goals. Last year, 20 people came from prison into MQI residential treatment.

This service is available to prisoners with a history of drug use, such as opiates, cocaine, alcohol, and other illegal and non-legal drugs.


  • One to one counselling
  • Group work
  • Overdose prevention awareness
  • Motivational interviewing/work
  • Cognitive Behavioural work
  • Relapse prevention
  • Release planning

Referrals to community and residential services

MQI’s prison-based addiction counselling service currency employs 20 full-time staff across eleven of Ireland’s prisons. Our teams endeavour to offer support, advice and counselling with a particular focus on accessing appropriate pre-entry and post-release options for people in prison who are in addiction. We work closely with treatment services, probation services and members of the legal profession. As ever, we advocate treating drug problems as a health issue rather than a criminal justice issue, thereby avoiding costly incarceration costs to the taxpayer, while providing effective treatment to the drug user. During the COVID-19 pandemic, MQI worked with the Irish Prison Service to ensure that mobile phone counselling was made available to inmates, while in-person counselling was impossible.

Prisons MQI operates in:

  • Castlerea Prison – Co. Roscommon
  • Cork Prison – Co. Cork
  • Limerick Prison – Co. Limerick
  • Loughan House, Open Centre – Co. Cavan
  • Mountjoy Prison – Co. Dublin
    • Male Prison
    • Dochas Female Prison
    • Mountjoy West Progression Unit
  • Shelton Abbey – Co. Wicklow
  • West Dublin Prison Campus – Co. Dublin
    • Wheatfield
    • Cloverhill (remand prisoners)
  • Portlaoise Prison – Co Laois
  • Midlands Prison – Co Laois

If you know someone in prison or are concerned about a prisoner then you can advise them to ask any of the prison healthcare team about the MQI counselling service. If you’re interested in the work MQI does, have a look at all our other services here.

Useful links: