Drugs and Alcohol Task Force – model of practice document

Drugs and Alcohol Task Force – model of practice document

By Maurice Garvey

A PERSON suffering from drug addiction and a mental health issue in Irish communities, has long been left in an awkward position due to a lack of joined up services.

Dual diagnosis, to give it it’s clinical term, essentially leads to little or no interagency work between substance misuse services and mental health services, leaving people with complex needs in a vulnerable position.

CDATF Model 1

Noreen Byrne (North Clondalkin CDP) & Maria Finn (CASP) both board members of CDATF.

This was one area that Clondalkin Drugs and Alcohol Task Force (CDATF) recognised as a major problem in the community, and in 2014 they began to work on this and other issues, to improve the quality of life for local individuals and families. 

This week, CDATF launched a model of practice document, which ultimately, has led to vast improvements for dual diagnosis services in the local area, along with improved services for Travelers and drug tourists arriving from Leinster counties.

The Clondalkin Model is the culmination of years of work conducted and led by CDATF, who engaged the help of their staff, partner organisations, local practitioners, Travelers, and service users, to develop “communities of practice.”

“The relationship with mental health and drug services was non-existent for some,” according to Jennifer Clancy, coordinator of the CDATF.

The development of dual diagnosis – considered by CDATF as one of five key initiatives in the Clondalkin Model – has now led to “agencies sharing” their resources.

The roll out of dual diagnosis services is a first for the area, and CDATF have been asked to deliver presentations on their model to other agencies around the country, due to it’s success.

Other key initiatives developed in the model are culturally appropriate substance misuse education, culturally appropriate counselling and referral pathways, harm reduction intervention and schools education on substance misuse.

The harm reduction programme, operated in conjunction with gardai and Irish Rail, was set up in response to the increase of people arriving to Clondalkin from other parts of the country for crack cocaine and heroin.

Clancy said problems were identified within the community and the entire Clondalkin Model is “underpinned by community involvement.”

“We use a bottom up approach, but don’t want people to be passive recipients. It takes time. We want to engage in a meaningful process.”

She said the model was carried out by CDATF with “little or no resources attached to them” and would not have been achievable without the “buy in from local community, voluntary and statutory agencies.”

“Since 2008 we have had a 30 to 37 per cent cut to services, it has happened across the board for youth, mental health and drug services.

“But key people wanted to do something to address these issues and it was developed locally.”

Established in 1997, CDATF’s catchment area has increased by nearly four times what it was originally, following the addition of Lucan and Palmerstown in 2017.

“We will be expanding further with Clonburris and Adamstown but there has been no increase in budgets,” said Clancy, who cited the “biggest recent Irish health budget of €16bn”, which she says,  is “not funneled down to communities.”

“This has led to a decimation of services. We are losing Jigsaw to Tallaght and had to lobby and lobby to ensure we didn’t lose HSE mental health services to Glen Abbey.

“People might think that only affects 2,500 people, but if you are living in Balgaddy and have to get two buses to Tallaght, these people are already vulnerable and it makes it much more difficult.”