Addiction treatment services at a Londonderry centre will not be fit for purpose once the lockdown ends, its head of treatment has predicted.
Coronavirus control measures have meant the residential facility at Northlands Addiction Treatment Centre has closed and its counselling services are delivered via telephone rather than face-to-face.
Tommy Canning, head of treatment, said he is worried that the number of new people seeking counselling has dropped by 50% in the past month compared to the same time last year.
Mr Canning said: "As things stand today, I think we are looking at an increased need for our services and a decrease in the ability to provide the service we exist to provide.
"The facility we have is no longer fit for purpose. We currently have around 20 people waiting to access our residential treatment, which is an eight-bed unit and is a six-week programme.
"Even with those numbers, you can see how long the wait is going to be but we may not be able to open at full capacity because of social distancing and coronavirus controls, we might only be able to go with 50% occupancy. We are potentially facing huge numbers of people seeking to access residential treatment when we come out of lockdown."
Mr Canning said people suffering with addiction or their family members should still avail of Northlands' support services.
He added: "Addiction creates isolation. In an environment where isolation is the message, it is vital to reach out for support and help.
"I would like people to know that we are still open, we are still providing a counselling service, albeit in a different format.
"Anyone who is concerned about their own drinking habit or that of a family member can contact the Northlands centre on 028 7131 3232."