Rising level of addictions and increased waiting lists during Covid-19 cause concern at Kildare rehab centre

Worries at Cuan Mhuire centre

Louise McCarthy

Reporter:

Louise McCarthy

Rising level of addictions and increased waiting lists during Covid-19 cause concern at Kildare rehab centre

Cuan Mhuire, Athy

Louise McCarthynews@leinsterleader.ie

A County Kildare residential rehabilitation centre is reporting rising levels of addictions while social distancing is greatly increasing waiting lists. Therapists are reporting that the hardest part since lockdown is turning people away.

At Cuan Mhuire, Athy, the capacity for treating people in residential care for a variety of addictions is now greatly reduced. People ranging in ages, from their twenties to sixties, from all around the country, turned up at the gates of Cuan Mhuire over lockdown, in desperate need of help with addictions, but were unable to stay, due to social distancing and fears for cocooning residents.

There have been no reports of Covid-19 at the treatment centre, those who come in as new patients have to quarantine for 14 days.

Therapist at Cuan Mhuire, Athy, Nicola Kelly, said: “We are getting between 40 to 50 calls per day, it is up by 16%. There are people looking for help, they are not able to stop on their own. We were taking calls, but with the social distancing, we had to stop taking in admissions for a while.”

Another therapist, Kieran Ryan, is advising those who can't access Cuan Mhuire services to contact their GP, who he says are 'open and transparent.' Also Ms Kelly encourages people to ring Cuan Mhuire, if even for a chat.

He said: “We noticed that since March, people who are coming in since the pandemic who may have not been alcoholics before, are now having a drink during the day. They don't have responsibility for turning up to work. They did not have anywhere to go, people living alone, cocooning, for various reasons. Because of the pandemic, there is a lot more people unemployed, there is a lot of free time. Also the stresses of having children at home and having to home school them, the lack of sports has had a massive impact.

“People were being locked down in a square box for 13 weeks and asked to be okay with it. I think that the effects of 2020 may last longer than the event itself.”

Ms Kelly says that during the past 18 years she has been working at Cuan Mhuire, she has never witnessed anything like it. She said: “Things are getting easier, very slowly.”

She says that there is a rise in home drinking, since the lockdown, and family members are very concerned about other family members.

She said: “We were not in a position to take in as many people as we were due to social distancing.

"We can never meet the demands here, Covid or non- Covid. We never clear our waiting lists. We definitely see an increase in people gambling online, we always have long waiting lists. Home drinking is so hidden. We give help over the phone but mainly people looking for help themselves. There are doctors ringing and Probation.”

The advice for anyone seeking treatment at Cuan Mhuire is to ring first, or to drop in and sit in the garden where they can have a chat.