Caption – the figures in the slide refer to the age Traveller drug users start treatment.

Dr Anne Marie Carew of the Health Research Board outlined some information on Traveller drug treatment during her presentation to the Citizens’ Assembly on Drug Use in June 2023.

  • Some Travellers don’t disclose their ethnicity due to fear of stigma.

  • Last year, nearly 400 cases self-identified as an Irish Traveller and commenced drug treatment.

  • The data shows that there was a greater need for drug treatment among this group, compared to the general population.

  • Opioids and benzodiazepines were the most common drugs among female Travellers (which is different to females in the general population where it was opioids and cocaine).

  •  Among male Travellers, cocaine and opioids were the most common drugs (this was the same for males in the general population).

  •  Both male and female Travellers were slightly older entering treatment compared to males and females in the general population.

See the Pavee Point submission to the Citizens’ Assembly on Drug use here.


Aims and Objectives

The central focus of the programme is the promotion of Traveller inclusion in national, regional and local responses  to address substance misuse.  We also  support Traveller organisations to tackle these issues within the community.

The programme aims to:

  • Strengthen Traveller participation in responding to substance misuse issues

  • Continue to develop and support a Traveller analysis of substance misuse issues

  • Ensure Traveller inclusion in all relevant drug policy and research

  • Develop, design and deliver a range of training modules and materials as appropriate for work with Traveller groups & service providers


What We Do

  • Training & Education: We  provide Traveller-specific drug & alcohol awareness training,  education and practical support to Traveller organisations, drugs task forces and drug and alcohol services.

  • Traveller Drug Network: The Drug & Alcohol Programme hosts the Traveller Drug Network meetings on a quarterly basis.  The meetings are an opportunity for drug & alcohol services and Traveller organisations to discuss and collectively address emerging issues within the Traveller community.  The aim is to promote information sharing and networking among Traveller organisations and addiction services nationally.

  • Policy & Lobbying: We promote and support Traveller inclusion & representation on external bodies, e.g. Drugs Task Forces.  Additionally, we work with the Health Research Board to promote data collection on Traveller drug use patterns by use of ethnic identifiers within a human rights framework.

  • Traveller Peer Support Work:  We believe Travellers in recovery from addiction, who have attended drug rehabilitation services and are willing to share their experiences, are best able to support others to increase the numbers of Travellers accessing treatment.  Following an agreement with Coolmine Therapeutic Community, Travellers that have completed the residential programme are given the option of undertaking a Community Employment scheme with them and seconded to Pavee Point in order to become Traveller Peer Support Workers.

  • Research & Publications: To access research completed by the Drug & Alcohol programme and other research pertaining to Traveller substance misuse in the Republic of Ireland, please refer to the Library section of this website and search using ‘drugs’.

The Drugs & Alcohol Programme was established in November 2000 and was known as the Traveller Specific Drugs Initiative until 2010.

Pavee Pathways-page0001



Thomas McCarthy, Co Ordinator, Drug & Alcohol Programme


John Paul Collins, Community Development Worker


Tel:  01 8780255 extension 128