Characteristics of concerned persons (CPs) accessing treatment services in their own right: A secondary analysis of Irish health data for 2010-2020.
Background: Persons significantly involved in the lives of those with addictions often endure considerable stress, without recognition, and at great personal cost. CPs are an important resource in prevention, treatment, and recovery from addictions, and are deserving of support in their own right. The aim of this study was to describe CPs accessing treatment services for personal support, and to inform measures to address the needs of this population nationally and internationally. This is the first known study to use routine surveillance data to characterise CPs.
Methods: Secondary analysis of data from an Irish national health surveillance system was conducted to describe cases from 2010-2020. Demographic variables were analysed descriptively for all referrals to treatment (n=13,744). Where available (2016-2020), treatment variables were analysed (n=3,842).
Results: Addiction services recorded 13,744 referrals for CPs. Children accounted for 815 (6.5%) referrals (n=12,569). Four-in five (79.0%) adult referrals were for females, and one third (35.1%) were females aged 45-64 years (n=11,739). Males (45.0%) and females (55.0%) were almost equally represented among child referrals (n=815). Adults mostly lived with others (n=11,373); many were living with children, either alone (2,161, 19.0%) or with a partner (4,860, 42.7%). Individual counselling was the most common treatment intervention received among adult (36.8%) (n=3,494) and child cases (32.5%) (n=252).
Conclusion: Findings suggest many CPs are not accessing formal support and may be coping alone or relying on informal support systems such as friends. Though an underestimation of CPs nationally, the findings demonstrate the demand for services for CPs and provide valuable insights into the characteristics of cases referred for treatment. These findings can inform measures to support CPs and the work of treatment services. There is scope to expand routine monitoring to include further data on CPs seeking support and supporting others through addiction treatment.