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Home > A re-focused and re-energised National Drugs Strategy.

Galvin, Brian (2005) A re-focused and re-energised National Drugs Strategy. Drugnet Ireland , Issue 14, Summer 2005 , pp. 1-2.

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 The Mid-Term Review1 of the National Drugs Strategy 2001–2008, published on 2 June 2005, recommends a number of additions and amendments to the existing Strategy, including making rehabilitation a new, ‘fifth’ pillar of the Strategy. The Steering Group that oversaw the Review, and the extensive consultation process on which it is based, found that the aims and objectives of the Strategy are fundamentally sound. While what has been achieved varies from action to action, progress has been made across the four pillars of supply reduction, prevention, treatment and research, and in the co-ordination of the institutional structures of the Strategy.

The Review recommends the addition of eight new actions, the replacement of nine of the existing actions and amendments to a further eight. It also recommends revisions to the Strategy’s key performance indicators, reflecting new developments and data availability. The recommendations serve to ‘re-focus and re-energise’ the Strategy in the remaining period up to 2008.

Under the supply reduction pillar the Review recommendations include:

·            a new action dealing with specialist training in drug-related issues for the judiciary;

·            the replacement of an existing action to provide additional Garda resources to community policing in local drugs task force (LDTF) areas;

·            the amendment of an existing action to allow for the extension of community policing fora to all LDTF areas and to other areas experiencing drug problems.

Under the prevention pillar the Review recommendations include:

·         two new actions to cover the introduction of prevention education as part of the curriculum for student teachers and the further strengthening of the role of the Home School Community Liaison Scheme, particularly with respect to families with drug problems;

·         the replacement of an existing action to allow for the introduction of substance use policies in all LDTF area schools, with a mechanism to monitor their development;

·         the replacement of an existing action to make preventative information more easily accessible to parents and families;

·         amendments to four other existing actions.

Under the treatment pillar the Review recommendations include:

·         a new action making rehabilitation the fifth pillar of the Strategy and establishing a working group to develop an integrated rehabilitation provision;

·         a new action to carry out an audit of the current availability of treatment options, including an assessment of treatment needs;

·         the replacement of an existing action to allow for the full implementation of the guidelines agreed by the Working Group on treatment for those under 18 years;

·         the replacement of an existing action to allow for the expansion of the provision of needle exchange and related harm reduction services;

·         the replacement of an existing action to allow for an increase in the number of general practitioners and pharmacists participating in the methadone protocol;

·         amendments to two existing actions, one which sets the maximum waiting period for treatment to one month following assessment, and the other which increases the availability and range of treatment options, particularly in relation to ploy-drug use.

Under the research pillar the Review recommendations include:

·            two new actions establishing a process to monitor the implementation of the recommendations arising from the reports of the National Advisory Committee on Drugs (NACD) and the development of the Central Treatment List by providing further information regarding entry and re-entry of opiate users to methadone treatment and the length of time in treatment.

The Review acknowledges the important preventative and support roles played by families.  It also recognises the difficulties faced by family support services arising from uncertainty around their role in dealing with families, lack of skills and inadequate support.   These problems were highlighted in a recent NACD report.  The review recommends that the provision of family support services should be prioritised and endorses the recommendations of the NACD report, namely:

·         enable services to respond to the needs of families through increased support and training;

·         strengthen interagency links and networks by building knowledge of local issues;

·         develop relevant monitoring and evaluation tools to measure effectiveness of services.


An important factor affecting the level of progress on actions is the extent of multi-agency involvement required. There was strong support for the partnership approach to the Strategy throughout the consultation process, but there are certain gaps and ill-defined roles which impact on the collaboration between the multiple statutory agencies, service providers and community and voluntary groups involved in delivering the Strategy.

The Review recommends a number of changes to the composition of the National Drugs Strategy Team (NDST) and the Inter-Departmental Group (IDG), which, along with the Cabinet Committee on Social Inclusion, comprise the institutional structure overseeing the implementation of the Strategy.  These recommendations include greater participation from the community and voluntary sector to represent the interests of the local and regional drugs task forces. The Review also recommends that the decision-making authority of the IDG be strengthened and that it should include representation from a number of statutory agencies. This would assist the IDG in fulfilling the role envisaged for it in the Strategy as an advisory body to the Cabinet Committee on Social Inclusion.

While acknowledging that alcohol and drug misuse are two separate policy areas, the Review recognises the need to develop better linkages and co-ordination between the two areas at policy and operational levels. The Review recommends the setting up of a working group involving key stakeholders of both the alcohol and drugs area to explore the potential for better co-operation between the two areas and how synergies could be improved.  

1. Steering Group for the Mid-Term Review of the National Drugs Strategy (2005) Mid-term review of the National Drugs Strategy 2001–2008. Dublin: Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.


Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
Substances (not alcohol/tobacco)
Intervention Type
Issue Title
Issue 14, Summer 2005
April 2005
Page Range
pp. 1-2
Health Research Board
Issue 14, Summer 2005
Accession Number
HRB (Available)

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