Prison services

National Prison-Based Addiction Counselling Service

The National Prison-Based Addiction Counselling Service operates in thirteen 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 to 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 person-centred counselling
  • Group work
  • Overdose prevention awareness
  • Motivational interviewing/work
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
  • 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 at all stages of a client’s journey. Alongside counselling, a particular focus is on accessing the appropriate pre-entry and post-release options for people in prison who are in addiction and recovery. 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 Open Centre– 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.

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