Fire-gutted addiction treatment facility has still not been replaced

The Community Alcohol Counselling & Treatment Centre, on the grounds of Merlin Park Hospital, which was destroyed by fire in September 2013.

Galway City Tribune – The lack of public alcohol addiction treatment in Galway is creating havoc for families and piling greater pressure on already-stretched resources at the Emergency Department and the Psychiatric Unit at UHG, it has been warned.

Ever since the Community Drug and Alcohol Treatment Centre in Merlin Park Hospital was burned down, patients have been basically abandoned, according to local addiction counsellor Joe Treacy.

Up to 50 a day sought treatment or counselling for alcohol and drug addiction at the facility, one third of them women. Half in total had alcohol problems. It was the first service in Ireland that ran an educational treatment programme on alcoholism on a daily basis.

Following a burglary and an arson attack in 2013, the service was to have moved to the Psychiatric Unit at University Hospital Galway (UHG) much to the consternation of service users and counsellors.

Addiction counsellor Joe Treacy was a vocal opponent of the move to UHG, describing it as “a congested, over-occupied, overburdened site” that “doesn’t lend itself to people engaging with alcohol or addiction services”.

This week he told the Galway City Tribune that the services are simply non-existent for people battling alcohol addictions unless they could cough up between €5,000 and €32,000 to undergo a four-week programme in a private facility.

“It is a huge indictment on a city the size of Galway and the HSE that there is no proper treatment centre for addiction. Unless you have a mental health issue, technically you’re not meant to be seen by a professional like myself. It’s just Stone Age,” he exclaimed.

Councillor Noel Larkin has called on the HSE to restore the building and reinstate the facility, which had been valued at €320,000. He was advised that the insurance pay out went into the general HSE coffers.
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