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Addicts are being neglected by poor services

IT will be deeply concerning for many families, alcoholics and addicts living in Northern Ireland to learn that their addiction treatment services have been described as "unsatisfactory" and "short-sighted" by a High Court judge (News, August 6).

Mr Justice Weatherup made these remarks as he refused bail to a young heroin addict from Derry.

Instead of getting the treatment that he needs, the young drug addict will now go back to prison at a cost of £40,000 per year.

The costs of his appearances in court and his time in police custody will have already cost an estimated £65,000.

I wrote to Health and Social Care (HSC) earlier this year requesting that the addiction treatment services at Castle Craig Hospital were made available to patients from Northern Ireland, who often contact us for help. The reply I received made it clear that HSC considered their local treatment services to be adequate.

In spite of this assurance, I am not aware of any high-quality rehabilitation centres in Northern Ireland with integrated medical and therapeutic treatment.

I have also long been aware that access to residential treatment services is often being denied to those who request and need it.

The comments by Mr Justice Weatherup have confirmed that HSC need to look for additional services outside their own region, or to develop their own local services considerably – and quickly.

DOMINIC McCANN

Castle Craig Hospital, Scotland

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