Launch of 'Just Maintaining the Status Quo’?

paula sandra and mmoc

At the launch of “Just Maintaining the Status Quo”?, Dr. Paula Mayock (TCD, report lead author), Sandra Campbell (Chair DLR Drug and Alcohol Task Force) and Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD, (Minister for Higher Education)

Direct link to the report “Just Maintaining the Status Quo”?     

Methadone maintenance treatment can bring stability to the lives of drug users, but they need multifaceted and multidisciplinary supports to achieve social reintegration.  That’s according to a new research report commissioned by Dún Laoghaire Rathdown Drug and Alcohol Taskforce (DLRDATF and launched Dec 10th by Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD, Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills. 

The report, “Just Maintaining the Status Quo”?, was written by a team of researchers from Trinity College Dublin, led by Dr. Paula Mayock, School of Social Work and  Social Policy  It examines the experiences of 25 people who have been on methadone treatment for 10 years or more. The average age of research participants was 43. The report shows that while methadone treatment is effective in providing stability, long-term users need a range of social interventions and supports, including education, training, housing and family welfare supports – in addition to medical treatment. Furthermore, the report highlights the stigma associated with methadone treatment, particularly for those availing of the treatment in public clinic settings. Commenting at the launch today, Dr. Mayock, said: “This is the first study in Ireland that specifically focuses on people who are long-term participants in methadone maintenance treatment.  We found that levels of social reintegration amongst our participants was exceptionally low.  Most did not have access to the kind of economic, social or personal resources that are needed to bolster and sustain the recovery process.

 “The dominant experience of being a methadone user was one of stigma, with many of those we engaged with for this research attempting to conceal their methadone use for fear of being judged. Stigma contributes to social isolation, with participants sharing with us how they felt excluded from community and family life.”

Key findings of the research include:

  • The average age that research participants first used drugs was 14 years old.  The average age that they first used heroin was 19 years old.
  • Methadone treatment impacted participants’ lives positively by bringing stability and normality to their lives. At the same time, participants reported negative sentiments about methadone and the treatment system more broadly, feeling they had little say in their treatment, particularly in relation to long-term rehabilitation planning.
  • The majority of participants in the research study had low levels of educational attainment, with nearly 80 per cent leaving school by Junior Certificate level.
  • Mental health problems were widely reported, with depression being the most commonly-cited mental health condition. Some participants cited lifelong mental health conditions stemming from childhood. Chronic physical health problems – including hepatitis C, liver cirrhosis and a range of respiratory, renal and coronary diseases – were reported.
  • Research participants had extremely low levels of social integration. The vast majority were unemployed and did not see any realistic prospect of employment.  Many were homeless or precariously housed with over half the participants experiencing homelessness at some point in their lives.

Social Reintegration

Dún Laoghaire Rathdown Drug and Alcohol Task Force (DLRDATF) commissioned the research following concerns that the needs of a particularly vulnerable group – long-term methadone-users – were not being met in a clinical setting alone. 

 Speaking before the launch Dr. Barry Cullen, Coordinator of DLRDATF, said, “Methadone treatment works as a public health measure and individually, but it inadvertently compounds users’ experience of social exclusion. The daily life of a long-term methadone user is characterised by seclusion and loneliness, with few dependable or trusted people in their lives.

 “While the obstacles they face are multiple and complex, we must not accept that this vulnerable group will live their lives on the margins of our community.  Social reintegration is about access to housing; access to education, training and employment; and the opportunity and support to repair relationships.  

 “Agencies operating in these fields must establish relevant programmes and services.  For our part, the Task Force will convene a collaborative team, involving housing support, the Local Employment Service, the Community Addiction Team, and family support to deliver more effective and holistic supports to long-term methadone-users in our community.”

 Minister Mitchell O’Connor

Launching the research report today, Minister of State for Higher Education – and TD for the Dún Laoghaire constituency – Mary Mitchell O’Connor said: “Research into social issues has a major role to play in developing new knowledge and evidence to help policymakers and practitioners meet societal challenges. 

 “I commend Dr. Mayock, her team, and the Dún Laoghaire Rathdown Drug and Alcohol Task Force for highlighting the societal and health needs of older methadone-users.  Meeting their needs will take an evidence-based, collaborative effort involving a range of stakeholders in our community. The research report launched today provides a solid foundation from which to begin that work.”

Dr. Eamon Keenan, National Clinical Director, HSE Addiction Services welcomed the launch of the research report today. Dr. Keenan said, “I wish to acknowledge the launch of this report and commend the hard work of all the authors particularly Dr Mayock. The report raises a number of challenging issues for service providers but we are confident that services can be developed into the future that will address more actively the needs of this cohort of individuals on long term methadone maintenance treatment. 

The HSE is committed to implementing all aspects of our National Drugs and Alcohol strategy, Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery and many of the recommendations from this report resonate with our objectives. 

Cecilia Forrestal (CAN) - chaired the Launch

Methadone maintenance treatment remains an Essential medicine as defined by the WHO and a key component of our Harm reduction approach to the problem of long term opioid dependence. We will also continue to work with the Drug and Alcohol Task Forces and other departments to promote the continuum of Recovery.”

Direct link to task force statement on the report

“Just Maintaining the Status Quo”?

stacked copies of report

Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, TD will be launching the report, “Just Maintaining the Status Quo”? The Experience of Long-term Participants in Methadone Maintenance Treatment, by Paula Mayock, Shane Butler and Daniel Hoey. There are still a few places left for the launch, which will be held in County Hall, Dun Laoghaire on Monday Dec 10th, commencing 9.45. In addition to Minister O’Connor, speakers will include Sandra Campbell, (Task Force chairperson), Dr. Paula Mayock (lead author), Dr. Eamon Keenan (National Clinical Lead, HSE Addiction Services) and Philomena Poole (CEO, DLR Co. Council). If you intend coming to this event you need to register by contacting Marie 01-7060125  

Governance code issued

The Charities Regulator has issued a new Governance Code for charities in order to facilitate better administration, management and governance of charitable organisations. The Code is for committee members, council members, board members or directors of a charity and is designed to help charity trustees put good governance systems and processes in place, to assist them in meeting their legal duties under charity law. The Code includes six principles which all charities should apply, core standards expected to be met when the principles are being put into effect, and additional standards that reflect best practice for larger charities, or charities with complex organisational and funding systems.


DROP Annual report 2017

drop photo

Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, TD, launched Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Outreach Project’s (DROP) Annual Report 2017 on November 15th last. The Project has gone through considerable change in recent year and continues to evolve in providing a professional service to its service users. A high priority in both 2017 and currently in 2018 has been to review organisational and informational policies, and to ensure the organisation has compliance with governance codes. Looking forward DROP has a new 3-year Strategic Plan designed to ensure it remains a service leader in community-based recovery. Photo shows the Minister with Joan Byrne (guest speaker from Citywide) and Anthea Carry who was appointed new DROP manager during 2017. Download

National Drugs Forum, 2018

The HRB website has uploaded presentations from its first National Drugs Forum (2018) organised jointly with Department of Health in the Aviva Stadium, November 12th last. The event aimed to strengthen the capacity of existing communities of practice and to provide examples for collaborative working across the statutory, community, and voluntary sectors.


Medical use of cannabis and cannabinoids

December 4th: The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) has produced a report on the evidence base for the medical use of cannabis and cannabinoids. The report outlines the importance of distinguishing cannabis preparations and medicine products and summarises regulations within the EU. 

cannabis graph

As most EU countries now allow, or are considering allowing, the medical use of cannabis or cannabinoids in some form, the report is designed to help policy-makers practitioners, potential patients and the public, to understand the scientific, clinical and regulatory issues that arise when consideration is given to making cannabis or cannabinoids available to treat the symptoms of medical illnesses. The report highlights the challenges of decision-making in this area and summarises the multiple issues that governments may consider when deciding whether to make cannabis or cannabinoids available for medical use. These include: the types of product that patients will be allowed to use; the medical conditions for which such products can be used; and the type of medical and regulatory supervision under which patients are allowed to use them. The report is available as a download.

Youth At-risk Update

A new series of Youth At-Risk Network workshops, commencing 2019. If you have any ideas, suggestions, please feel free to contact the new Prevention Coordinator, Barry Dempsey

Meanwhile, we have produced a brochure summarising the Network series, 2017-18.

Multiple hard copies of this brochure can be obtained by contacting Marie: 01-7060125 or email.


Video about young people’s smoking

Dun Laoghaire Community Training Centre has circulated this video on smoking, and is seeking likes to help it win online award. View video here

Date for your diary

Older drug-users: Monday, Nov 5th. Assembly Hall, DLR County Council Office, Dun Laoghaire.

The DLR Drug and Alcohol Task Force, in conjunction with Southside Partnership and DLR- Community Addiction Team will be launching a report on the health and social needs of older drug users, who have been more than ten years in continuous treatment. The research was undertaken by Dr. Paula Mayock, TCD. The launch will include a workshop on this important theme. Invitations will be issued in due course 

 © DLR - DATF, 2016   C/O Southside Partnership, Main st., Blackrock, Co. Dublin Tel: 01-7060125 / 087-6494922