This study examined the expenditure of compensation received from legal claims by service users attending an outpatient methadone programme in Dublin. Most claims (n = 62) were as a result of road traffic accidents (74%) or personal injury (15%). There were 28 reports of claims resulting in payment of compensation totalling €912,871. Of the compensation not placed in trust (€477,871), almost 40% was spent on drugs and 8% on alcohol. Of those who reported no drug misuse at the time of the compensation being paid, seven out of 11 (64%) reported subsequently spending a significant amount on substance misuse.
The risks of receiving large amounts of money in this population are substantial and include initiation and exacerbation of substance misuse, and risk of overdose. Alternative ways of managing the payment of compensation should be considered for this vulnerable population.