06 November 2018
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20 Years of the Methadone Treatment Protocol in Ireland

The Methadone Treatment Protocol (MTP) was introduced 20 years ago in October 1998. It was primarily introduced as a much needed response to the high rates of HIV infections and the deaths associated with an increasing heroin epidemic in socially deprived areas of Dublin at the time. Despite the body of medical evidence which supported methadone maintenance as a valuable harm reduction model, particularly in reducing HIV and HCV transmission rates and in improving the health and social functioning of opioid users, its introduction was met with responses ranging from outrage to acceptance.

There was mixed support from politicians, policy makers and medical professionals as this approach challenged the existing traditional abstinence model of addiction treatment. Through the hard work of strong advocates, both statutory and non-statutory, the first twenty years of the MTP has been a journey of service improvement and political lobbying in order to get the best possible outcomes for patients in need of opiate substitution treatment (OST).

The ICGP has played a key role in lobbying for the expansion of methadone services throughout the country and in encouraging the mainstreaming of care for this marginalised patient group. The structured framework of the MTP has helped to allay the fears of many GPs who were reluctant to get involved in methadone treatment in those early days. This framework facilitated training, support, quality assurance and remuneration for GPs who wished to provide holistic care to drug users. Today a network of trained Level 1 and Level 2 trained GPs, as well as GPs working in HSE Addiction centres, provide methadone to over 10,000 patients across Ireland. We can continue to build on this successful model of care with the aim of normalising the treatment of all substance use issues in primary care.

Click here to view the publication 20 years of the Methadone Treatment Protocol in Ireland.

Click here for the photo gallery from this event.

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