Professor Colin O'Gara

'Professor Colin O'Gara' image

I am a Consultant Psychiatrist with 20 years experience working in clinical psychiatry, mainly in the area of addiction medicine. Since 2007 I am Head of Addiction Services at Saint John of God Hospital, Stillorgan, Dublin.

For the past 14 years I have led service developments in addiction medicine at Saint John of God Hospital. During this time I have worked with a wide range of talented multidisciplinary clinical and management colleagues building holistic non confrontational detoxification and rehabilitation services. At Saint John of God Hospital addiction services we receive referrals from all over Ireland for treatment of acute addiction problems. Assessment and triage of presentations is a key facet of treatment which involves directing those with acute illness to the most appropriate supports. Many acute addiction presentations also require detoxification prior to considering rehabilitation. Our clinical service provides detoxification from a wide range of substances, most commonly alcohol but also stimulants (cocaine, amphetamine, internet/head shop drugs), opioids (over the counter and other painkillers), sedatives (benzodiazepines and 'z' drugs) cannabis and cannabinoids. Digital detoxification is increasingly common for severe gambling disorder, internet gaming disorder (video gaming) and internet use disorder (excessive use of the internet in general) presentations. In the case of substance detoxification, medication is used for the prevention of withdrawal phenomena such as delirium and seizures. Technology detox is focused on provision of a safe environment away from device usage and destructive behavioural patterns.

I have developed strong working relationships with clinical leaders at key treatment centres (both outpatient and inpatient) in Ireland and Internationally offering the opportunity for diverse care pathways. Prior to this I worked in many areas of general, community and addiction psychiatry at the Maudsley and Bethlem Royal Hospitals, London and its surrounding catchment areas. During this period I was awarded membership of the Royal College of Psychiatrists (2003). I am a current member of the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland and a graduate of University College Cork's medical school.

Research in the addiction sciences is an important aspect of our philosophy and approach to the treatment of addictive disorders. I head up a research group at St. John of God Hospital within the School of Medicine at UCD. Current areas of investigation are gambling service provision, problem gambling stigma, responsible gambling initiatives, over the counter pill addiction and optimising efficacy of both inpatient and outpatient alcohol addiction rehabilitation. Additional current areas of investigation are internet addiction in fantasy football players, views towards alcohol addiction treatment in Ireland, online gaming in children and gambling advertising in Ireland. An ongoing key collaboration is with Professor Mark Griffith's International Gaming Research Unit at Nottingham Trent University, UK. Our team members across many disciplines are research active and collaborate with a host of international collaborators. I conducted research in many areas of addiction at the Institute of Psychiatry, London, which is co-located with the Maudsley Hospital. Early on during my time in London, I succeeded in gaining support for work on the genetics of cocaine addiction, which encouraged me to continue subsequent genetic work in nicotine addiction. This and subsequent work features in international scientific journals, medical publications, media articles and books (see 'research' and 'publications' sections and my researchgate profile for a list of recent publications). I was awarded a PhD from the University of London/Kings for work on the genetics of nicotine addiction (2010). 

Teaching is also an integral part of our approach to the improvement of service provision. We envisage that medical students will be clinical leaders of the future, furthering developments in treatment provision for those suffering from addiction. Our service provides tuition for medical students and other health professionals at Saint John of God Hospital. Within UCD, I was appointed Clinical Professor at the School of Medicine and Medical Specialties (2018) after holding previous academic appointments of Senior Clinical Lecturer and Associate Clinical Professor. I worked with the UK charity 'Action on Addiction' and regularly interact with the public, media and expert audiences. I see the purpose of these interactions as an opportunity to destigmatise addiction and mental heath disorders in addition to promoting the importance of holistic, non-shame based treatments.

Finally, I am recently the author of a new book entitled, 'Gambling Addiction in Ireland; Causes, Consequences and Recovery' with Veritas publishers. This book has been written for a general audience and aims to help patients and families struggling with gambling addiction.

Prof Colin O'Gara, January 2021