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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. 

stacked copies of report

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.

Paula presenting the report

 “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.  

Barry paula minister and eamon

 “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

December 4th Website Updates

EMCDDA Report on medical use of cannabis and cannabinoids released Dec 4th……more

Presentations from National Drugs Forum, 2018…..more

Reminder: Launch of report, “Just Maintaining the Status Quo”? The Experiences of Long-term Participants in Methadone Maintenance Treatment Dec 10….more

Governance code issued by Charities Regulator….more

Launch of Dunlaoghaire Rathdown Outreach Project (DROP) Annual Report 2017….more

Find out more about the Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Drug and Alcohol Task Force 


November 2018 updates

June 2018 updates


The Drug Policy Unit at the Department of Health is holding a National Consultation during June on the possession of illegal drugs for personal use. Click here


The 5th and final workshop in current series with the DLR Youth At-Risk Network was held May 29th in Samuel Beckett Community Facility. Click Here


HRB has released latest drug treatment figures, 2010-2016, Click here

April 2018 updates

The latest  Youth At-Risk Network workshop was held on Thursday, April 12th, in the Harbour View Business Centre, Dun Laoghaire. The theme for this workshop was Social Media and Vulnerable Youth.

A new youth substance misuse prevention initiative is being developed by the Task Force and will be of particular interest to projects and services working with vulnerable youth in community settings, such as youth services, special youth projects, care and after-care projects, family resource centres, and out-of-school education and training. Further information





The Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown Drug and Alcohol Task Force (DLR DATF) is a partnership of people from local statutory, voluntary and community service providers and elected local representatives. It is an important component of the Irish Government’s response to drug and alcohol use as outlined in Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery. 

See Background

At a local level Drug and Alcohol Task Forces (DATFs), building on previous national drug strategies,  complement other mainstream interventions for tackling drug and alcohol problems. There are 14 local DATFs: 12 in Dublin (including DLR) and two outside in Bray and Cork City. 

The DLR-DATF has the following aim and purpose:

  • To compile information on local alcohol and drug problems in DLR
  • To maintain an up-to-date picture of these problems
  • To identify gaps in the State’s response to these problems
  • To make funding recommendations to government on the best way for dealing with local drug problems
  • To support community agencies and other local bodies to get involved in the work of the Task Force
  • To monitor the implementation and effectiveness of funded actions and to decide future priorities

Organisationally, the Task Force in DLR is hosted by Southside Partnershipwe are funded by the Department of Health, the Health Service Executive (HSE) and the Dublin and Dun Laoghaire Local Education & Training Board (DDLETB)  and we work in close collaboration with funded projects and other agencies. While we cover the DLR county area, we more specifically target communities where these problems have been most prevalent.

The operational procedures for task forces are set out in two handbooks, the first was published in 1999 and revised in 2011. The DLR-DATF operates in accordance with these procedures amended per recommendations in the Report on the Review of Drugs Task Forces, 2014


Statement on the report

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