Census of drug and alcohol treatment services in Northern Ireland: 1 March 2017

Date published: 01 August 2017

The Department of Health today published the “Census of Drug and Alcohol Treatment Services in Northern Ireland – 1 March 2017” bulletin.

The Census summarises information collected from statutory and non-statutory drug and alcohol treatment services to establish the number of persons in treatment in Northern Ireland for drug and/or alcohol misuse.

The bulletin presents information on the number of persons in treatment on 1 March 2017.

Key Findings

  • In Northern Ireland on 1 March 2017, a total of 5,969 persons were reported to be in treatment for misuse of alcohol and/or drugs.
  • This number has been relatively stable over the last ten years with the exception of 2014 (8,553 persons). It should be noted that additional lottery-funded alcohol projects were running during 2014 which would have contributed to the increased number of clients in that year.
  • Of those in treatment, over two-fifths (43%) were in treatment for alcohol only, a third (34%) were in treatment for drugs only, and a quarter (23%) were in treatment for both drugs and alcohol.
  • Over the last decade, there has been a change in the type of treatment being sought; there has been a relative fall in the proportion of those receiving treatment for alcohol from four-fifths (80%) to two-thirds (66%) whereas the proportion of clients in treatment for drugs has increased from 38% to 57%.
  • Of those in treatment for alcohol and /or drugs, three-fifths (60%) were males aged 18 and over, with more than a quarter (28%) being females aged 18 and over. Three times as many male clients under 18 (9%) were in treatment than female clients under 18 (3%).
  • A quarter of clients were receiving treatment in the Belfast Trust area. The remaining Trusts were around a fifth with the exception of the South Eastern Trust at 14%.
  • Three-fifths of clients (60%) received treatment through statutory organisations, with 37% receiving treatment though non-statutory organisations, and 3% receiving treatment in prison.
  • The majority of clients (89%) were being treated in a non-residential setting. Those who were being treated for both drugs and alcohol were more likely to have received treatment in a residential setting (17%) than those being treated for either drugs only (1%) or alcohol only (6%).

Notes to editors: 

1. This is the sixth Census of drug and alcohol treatment services in Northern Ireland. Previous Censuses were conducted on 1 March in 2005, 2007, 2010, 2012, and on 1 September 2014.

2. This publication is available online at: Census of drug and alcohol treatment services in Northern Ireland - 1 March 2017

3. Additional information is available from:

Public Health Information and Research Branch
Information Analysis Directorate
Department of Health
Annexe 2, Castle Buildings
Belfast BT4 3SQ

Telephone:         028 9052 2523

E-mail: PHIRB@health-ni.gov.uk

4. Media enquiries about this press release to DoH Press Office 028 9052 0505, or out of office hours contact to Duty Press Officer via pager number 07623 974383 and your call will be returned. Follow us on Twitter@healthdpt

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