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Home > 183. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children the progress made in regard to the commitment given in the programme for Government to prioritise and intensify measures to tackle alcohol and drug misuse among all sections of the population and in particular among young people. [18298/08]

[Oireachtas] 183. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children the progress made in regard to the commitment given in the programme for Government to prioritise and intensify measures to tackle alcohol and drug misuse among all sections of the population and in particular among young people. [18298/08]. (13 May 2008)

External website: http://debates.oireachtas.ie/dail/2008/05/13/00099...


Minister for Health and Children (Deputy Mary Harney): The government is taking a twin-track approach to tackling alcohol related harm, involving policies and interventions targeted at vulnerable populations and policies targeted at the population at large to reduce the overall level of alcohol misuse in society. In this regard, initiatives are being taken by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform in relation to licensing laws with a view to reducing public disorder and further restrictions on advertising and marketing are also being introduced. In addition, a working group, which includes the social partners, has been established to progress Action 80 of the National Drugs Strategy 2001-2008 in relation to potential synergies between the alcohol and drug areas; it is anticipated that the working group will complete its report during the summer. In regard to drug misuse, the HSE is identified as the lead co-ordination agency for the implementation of the Report of the Working Group on Drugs Rehabilitation published by the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs in May 2007.

The HSE’s addiction service prioritises those under 18 years of age and, as resources permit, the HSE is implementing the recommendations of the Report of the Working Group on Treatment for Under 18 year Olds Presenting to Treatment Services with Serious Drug Problems. In recent times, the HSE has re-oriented its addiction services to address the needs arising from changing patterns of drug use in the population e.g. poly drug use — including cocaine use. While the Programme for Government indicated that two cocaine specific treatment centres would be opened, the available evidence indicates that many approaches already in use in general addiction services work well with cocaine misusers; accordingly, further consideration is being given to this issue.

The HSE is also involved in developing community based stand-alone stimulant intervention services which includes additional training for its staff on issues such as cocaine and it is also re-engineering existing addiction services to meet emerging needs. The HSE is committed to implementing the rehabilitation strategy and will proceed this year to create and fill one post of senior co-ordinator for drugs rehabilitation. This will enable the National Drug Rehabilitation Implementation Committee to be established and other preliminary work to commence which will build on existing drugs rehabilitation initiatives. The planning and development of a minimum of 25 detox. residential beds recommended in the Drugs Rehabilitation report will be addressed in conjunction with the recommendations contained in the HSE Report of the Working Group on Residential Treatment and Rehabilitation Services which addressed the needs for addiction and alcohol services on a national basis. The planning for these beds, as revenue and staff are made available, will be carried out in the context of the mapping and analysis of existing services; prevalence data/trends; the phased priority planning of future service needs including taking account of the capacity of the voluntary sector and in the context of the HSE transformation programme.

The HSE currently makes €91 million available for its drugs services overall: this includes an additional €6 million which was allocated for key priorities in Budget 2007. In addition, the government also makes significant funding available through the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs for addiction-related initiatives of the Local and Regional Drugs Task Forces and for the Young Person’s Services and Facilities Fund. This year approximately €64 million has been made available — an increase of 25% on the revised 2007 allocation. The Young Persons Facilities and Services Fund, which has recently been expanded to include four additional urban areas (Dundalk, Arklow, Wexford and Athlone), has received an allocation of €24 million in 2008.

Vol. 654 No. 1
Written Answers
Tuesday, 13 May 2008

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