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Pike, Brigid (2006) In brief. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 17, Spring 2006, p. 23.

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On 18 November 2005 the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC) launched its three years of statistics for the Schoolmate Drug and Alcohol pilot prevention scheme. This pilot scheme, launched in 2003, provides a direct-access support service to vulnerable young people who are at risk of early school-leaving due to drug and substance abuse.

On 16 December 2005 The SPHE story: an example of incremental change in the school settingwas launched by the Minister for Education and Science, Mary Hanafin TD.  This Report was prepared by the Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) Support Service based in Marino Institute of Education in Dublin. It deals with the implementation of the SPHE curriculum, which includes a module on substance abuse, at junior cycle post-primary level, drawing on material from three evaluations commissioned by the Support Service and tracing progress between 2000 and 2003. The report notes that the main challenges to successful implementation of SPHE at school level are the continuing professional development needs of teachers, and the need to establish time for SPHE in a crowded curriculum and to co-ordinate the programme in schools. Minister Hanafin called for a ‘supportive school environment’, underpinned by school policies on substance use, bullying and the school’s code of behaviour.

In December 2005 the report Moving beyond educational disadvantage was published. Prepared by the Educational Disadvantage Committee (set up by the Minister for Education in April 2002 under section 32 of the Education Act 1998, ‘to advise the Minister on policies and strategies to be adopted to identify and correct educational Disadvantage’), the report sets out guidelines for effective services to address educational disadvantage, envisages the way forward in developing an integrated approach to educational inclusion and equality and concludes with a strategy for an inclusive, diverse and dynamic learning society without barriers. It suggests that educational equality will only be achieved within the broader context of achieving social inclusion, and argues that poverty and other issues that contribute to educational disadvantage, such as drug and alcohol abuse, must be tackled in parallel and in an integrated way.

Between 9 November and 1 December 2005 the National Action Plan against Poverty and Social Exclusion 2006–2008 was the subject of a series of seven regional seminars hosted by the Office for Social Inclusion (OSI). This Plan is due for completion in September 2006. Suggestions in relation to the problems associated with drug and alcohol misuse included identifying drug users as a vulnerable group within the Plan; providing additional services for homeless people, including more wet hostels for people misusing drugs or alcohol; improving drug and alcohol rehabilitation services; developing an active, outreach health promotion strategy, together with more community-based counselling and therapeutic services to address the problems of suicide and substance misuse in rural and urban areas. With regard to anti-social behaviour, much of which was seen as arising from substance or alcohol abuse, suggestions included developing both security-led and social responses, and committing to implementation of the National Drugs Strategy, which should focus on responding to emerging needs in rural and urban areas.

On 20 January 2006 theDrug Treatment Centre Board became the first clinical laboratory in Ireland (funded by the Health Service Executive) to be accredited to the IS0 17025 standard.It is a formal recognition that the laboratory has competent staff, appropriate testing equipment and suitable laboratories and that it carries out its work according to international standards.

On 24 January 2006 A vision for change: the report of the Expert Group on Mental Health Policywas launched by Mary Harney, Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children. The report describes a framework for building and fostering positive mental health across the entire community and for providing accessible, community-based, specialist services for people with mental illness. In relation to mental health services for persons with co-morbid mental illness and substance abuse problems, the report recommends:

°          The proposed general adult Community Mental Health Teams (CMHTs) should cater for adults who have co-morbid substance abuse and mental health problems, particularly when the primary problem is a mental health problem.

°          A national policy co-ordinator should be appointed to deliver national objectives and standards pertaining to primary care and community interventions for drug and alcohol abuse and their linkage to mental health services.

°          Specialist adult CMHTs should be developed in each catchment area of 300,000 people to manage complex, severe substance abuse and mental disorder.

°          Two additional adolescent multidisciplinary CMHTs should be established (in addition to the two in Dublin) to provide expertise to care for adolescents with co-morbid addiction and mental health problems. 


On 26 and 27 January 2006 Drugs and Civil Society in Europe was the theme of a meeting in Brussels attended by more than 100 representatives of Europe’s civil society. The meeting was organised by the Directorate-General for Freedom, Security and Justice of the European Commission in pursuit of the objective in the EU Drugs Action Plan (2005–2008) ‘to strengthen the involvement of civil society in EU drugs policy planning and implementation’. The main outcome of the meeting was the recognition by all sides that a permanent and properly resourced forum is needed to enable the EU institutions and civil society to communicate in such a way that grass-roots experience can feed into EU policy-making on drugs. The Commission will take this matter up in its Green Paper on Drugs and Civil Society, expected to be published later in 2006.



Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, International, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
All substances
Issue Title
Issue 17, Spring 2006
January 2006
Page Range
p. 23
Health Research Board
Issue 17, Spring 2006
Accession Number
HRB (Available)

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