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Keane, Martin (2005) The EDDRA column. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 14, Summer 2005, p. 23.

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Welcome to the eleventh EDDRA (Exchange on Drug Demand Reduction Action) column. The aim of this column is to inform people about the EDDRA online database, which exists to provide information on good practice interventions to policy makers and those working in the drugs area across Europe, and to promote the role of evaluation in reducing demand for drugs. The database is co-ordinated by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA).


In this issue the spotlight is on a recent Irish addition to the EDDRA database, the Certificate in Addiction Studies (NUI Maynooth) delivered by the Drug Awareness Programme, Crosscare. In recent years, there has been a notable increase in the numbers of people from the community and voluntary sectors working in drug prevention and treatment. The Addiction Studies course was designed to meet the needs of these groups who engage directly with substance users or their families. The course also caters for those working in the statutory sector, e.g. probation officers, teachers etc., who occasionally work with individuals and families for whom substance use is an issue.


The programme has three specific objectives:


  • To provide participants with a broad overview of key theoretical frameworks and practical debates that arise in relation to substance misuse and dependency 
  • To enable participants to develop basic helping and intervention skills in the field of drug and alcohol misuse 
  • To provide a course of study and support that is in line with models of good practice in adult education.

The evaluation of the programme by Dr Mark Morgan1 commenced in October 2003, when students completed a questionnaire on their expectations and experiences of the course thus far.  The evaluator visited a number of classes and seminars during the academic year. A final questionnaire was administered to students at course completion and participants also took part in focus groups as the course neared its end. The evaluation focused primarily on establishing the extent to which the course (a) contributed to the professional needs of the community and voluntary sector, and particularly the participants, in terms of drug prevention, and (b) was guided by best practice in the field of adult learning.


Morgan concluded that feedback from the initial questionnaire provided reason for course organisers to be satisfied with their initial work.1 Participants showed knowledge of what they could learn on the course and what they should learn, and were confident that they would be able to learn. They showed realistic expectations, were confident of the value of the course to their professional lives and were very positive about the personal and professional skills of tutors on the course.


Twenty students completed questionnaires at the end of the course. Students regarded most of the topics covered by the course as satisfactory; however, some students expressed dissatisfaction with the pharmacological perspective of the course.  Students agreed that the course had enhanced their understanding of addiction and related issues and had improved their job prospects to some extent; they had gained insights into themselves and an understanding of adult learning.  Seventy-five per cent of students rated as satisfactory the topics that were designed to develop their skills base, such as self-care and stress management, working with specific groups and working with young people. Thirteen students deemed the topic of motivational interviewing and brief solution-focused therapy as satisfactory.


The evaluation reported that the experiences of students on the course were extremely positive and compared favourably with those in other institutions of higher education. Features of note were: (a) competency of tutors and lecturers, (b) class run on model of real adult education, (c) high level of class discussion on major issues, reflecting the diverse backgrounds of participants, and (d) high level of trust within class and between class and tutors, evidenced by the readiness of people to disagree with their colleagues. The response of participants to the work of facilitators was extremely positive, with facilitators being graded very highly on approachability, competence, encouragement and accessibility.


Morgan concluded the evaluation by summing up the strengths of this programme:


It is evident that the Certificate in Addiction Studies run by the Drug Awareness Programme has been an outstanding success. The participants in the course are carefully selected, highly motivated and eager to be involved in the course in accordance with a true adult learning methodology. The content of the course was well researched and the speakers for the various topics were extremely competent, encouraged participation and showed an enthusiasm for their modules in a way that was reflected in the very positive ratings. The assessment procedure was appropriate to the course and all of the students were positive about the benefit they derived from these. (Morgan 2004: 21-22)


This valuable work carried out by Crosscare is in part response to Action 72 of the National Drugs Strategy 2001–2008 calling on professional bodies and training institutes to make specialist drug prevention training available to individuals interacting with groups most at risk of drug misuse.  Crosscare is one of the few voluntary bodies to have responded to this action.


1. Morgan, M (2004) Evaluation of Certificate in Addiction Studies (NUI Maynooth). Dublin: Crosscare, Drugs Awareness Programme.


 A copy of Dr Morgan’s evaluation can be downloaded https://www.drugsandalcohol.ie/6077/


Item Type
Publication Type
International, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
All substances
Issue Title
Issue 14, Summer 2005
April 2005
Page Range
p. 23
Health Research Board
Issue 14, Summer 2005
Accession Number
HRB (Available)

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