Heroin users experience of counselling as part of their treatment a representative sample of an inner city drugs project

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Boyne, Alan
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BA (Hons) Counselling and Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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In light of previous reports highlighting heroin users dissatisfaction with their treatment within the health service the purpose of this study was to explore heroin users experience of counselling as part of their treatment. The method chosen for this study was a grounded theory approach using semi-structured interviews with six heroin users who participated in this study as a representative of an inner city drugs project The data collected was analysed by breaking down the responses of each participant from taped transcripts and forming codes and subsequently themes from interviews. The findings revealed that because of issues around judgement and confidentiality within and without their experiences of the drug services, heroin users took a long time to find trust in the process of counselling as part of their treatment. The relationship with the counsellor was of paramount importance to the participants in helping them to work through personal and painful issues. Although counselling was rated highly as helping with emotional and psychological factors relating to heroin use, participants also felt that at times there were problems with access to counselling. Also participants felt counselling could be of greater benefit as part of a more holistic, streamlined service. Participants cited that ideally, this would consist of medication i.e. methadone maintenance and counselling, followed by detoxification, then rehabilitation, but that long waiting lists presently prohibited them from accessing each service in a timely manner. On the basis of these findings the researcher, recommends ongoing consultation with heroin users about their needs and a review of the current services to ensure that they have continual input into their treatment.