National Advisory Committee on Drugs and Alcohol

The NACDA was established in response to the drug problem to assist in our continued need to improve our knowledge and understanding of problem drug use.

The goal of the NACDA is to advise the Government on problem drug use in Ireland in relation to prevalence, prevention consequences and treatment based on our analysis and interpretation of research findings.

Research shows significant reductions in drug use after one year's treatment

Media Contact Ger Nash (087 2716816) / Pat Montague (087 2549123) Montague Communications, tel. 01 830 3116


National Advisory Committee on Drugs (NACD) says investment in drug treatment is paying off

Ireland’s first national longitudinal study on drug misuse treatment is showing that significant reductions in drug use and involvement in crime by participants were achieved after one year of treatment. The research was commissioned by the NACD in fulfilment of Action 99 of the National Drugs Strategy and was carried out by the National University of Ireland Maynooth. Dr Catherine Comiskey, Principal Investigator presented the first findings from ROSIE which is an acronym for Research Outcome Study in Ireland evaluating drug treatment effectiveness. Researchers recruited 404 opiate users when they started drug treatment (between September 2003 and July 2004) and followed them over one year. Interviews were carried out when the opiate user entered drug treatment, after 6 months and after 12 months.

Launching the ROSIE Findings 1: Summary of 1-year outcomes, Mr Noel Ahern TD, Minister of State with responsibility for the National Drugs Strategy said, “I welcome this timely research which provides much needed information on how well people do when they go for drug treatment. Expanding the provision of drug services has been a cornerstone of the National Drugs Strategy. The Government commitment of funding to tackling drug misuse over the last 10 years is now showing benefit, however, we will continue to watch trends and respond to an ever changing drugs misuse environment.”

75% (n=305) of the study group were interviewed at 12 months, and the key findings include:

  • Significant reductions in heroin and other drug use were observed in the followed-up study population 1-year after treatment intake
  • 27% of those followed up were abstinent from all drugs excluding alcohol after 1-year compared to 7% at treatment intake
  • Extensive reductions in injecting drug use were observed; both the number of days participants injected and the number of times per day reduced
  • Substantial reduction in the percentage of people reporting involvement in acquisitive crime from 31% at treatment intake to 14% at 1-year
  • Improvements in physical and mental health were observed
  • Study participants had significantly increased contact with GP, employment and housing/homeless services
  • A decrease in contact with A&Es, social and welfare services was also observed

Dr Des Corrigan, NACD Chairperson, said,

“We have met with the Minister and outlined our main conclusion to him that investment in opiate treatment services leads to benefits to the individual drug user, to their family and to the rest of the community and that this investment must be continued. The NACD has funded the continuation of the study to provide information on the participants, 3-years after entry to treatment.”

Further findings will be published from the study in the coming months.


Notes to the Editor:

  • The Minister of State has responsibility for the National Drugs Strategy and Community Affairs at the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs and for Housing and Urban Renewal at the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government.
  • This research was commissioned by the NACD in 2002 and following open tender, the contract was awarded to Dr Catherine Comiskey and NUI Maynooth.
  • The study is fulfilment of NACD responsibility in relation to Action 99 of the National Drugs Strategy 2001-2008: ‘To commission further outcome studies within the Irish setting to establish the current impact of methadone treatment on both individual health and on offending behaviour. Such studies should be an important tool in determining the long term value of this treatment.’
  • Fieldwork for the study started with recruitment in March 2003 into the pilot testing of the research instruments. Full recruitment continued from September 2003 to July 2004. The ROSIE study recruited 404 opiate users on entry into three-index treatments; methadone maintenance/reduction (53.2%, n=215) structured detoxification (20%, n=81) and abstinence-based treatment (20.3%, n=82). In addition, a sub-sample of opiate users was recruited from needle-exchanges (6.4%, n=26). These modalities were part of the tender brief from the NACD as they were considered to represent the most widely implemented interventions for opiate users in Ireland.

Research methodology:

The methodology used is a prospective, longitudinal, observational study. Participants were interviewed at the three time periods using a pre-prepared interview schedule, which examined key outcome measures including:

  • Drug use (including drug type, frequency and quantity of use);
  • General health (a 10-point physical & psychological health assessment);
  • Social functioning (employment, accommodation, involvement in crime);
  • Harm (injecting behaviour & experience of overdose) and;
  • Mortality (participant/contact feedback & checking non-followed–up participants against General Death Register).


For further information: please contact Gerald Nash (087 2716816) / Pat Montague (087 2549123) at Montague Communications, tel. 01 8303116.

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