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25 October 2018
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Methadone Treatment Programme saved thousands of lives and helped families recover from addiction

Celebration of 20 years of the structured Methadone programme for Heroin addicts held in Dublin today (October 25th 2018).

Representatives of community projects, the HSE, and the Department of Health joined with the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) this evening to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the introduction of the Methadone Treatment Protocol in Ireland.

The event, held in the Royal Irish Academy, was addressed by the Minister of State, Catherine Byrne, and attended by a range of people who were involved in the development and introduction of the Protocol 20 years ago. Prof. John Strang, who helped develop the programme, addressed the gathering.

"Thousands of lives have been saved by this protocol," said Dr Ide Delargy, Programme Director of the Substance Misuse Programme with the Irish College of General Practitioners. "It has helped heroin addicts to become rehabilitated and get their lives back on track. It has helped the families of those affected by heroin addiction, and provided addicts with accessible, structured access to general practitioners in the community".

Currently, there are approximately 10,500 people using the Methadone Treatment programme, of which 4,500 are being treated by General Practitioners in the community.

"When this protocol was first devised, the treatment of heroin addiction was chaotic," Dr Delargy added. 'There was widespread needle sharing amongst addicts, there was medicine swopping and HIV and Hep C was widespread in the addicted community. Nowadays the treatment regime is managed within a much more structured, controlled and safe environment."

The President of the ICGP, Dr John O'Brien, said "The lives of very many people have been made better by virtue of the great work done by those delivering this care. For some, it has been the route to a drug-free life, but not for all."

MEDIA QUERIES Aileen O'Meara, Communications Consultant, ICGP 087 2239830

Email: Twitter @ICGPnews