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Galvin, Brian (2007) Conference on cocaine intervention and rehabilitation. Drugnet Ireland , Issue 23, Autumn 2007 , p. 11.

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Cocaine Response: Sharing Good Practice, a conference hosted by SAOL and the National Drugs Strategy Team (NDST) and attended by 280 delegates, was held in Croke Park, Dublin, on 28 June 2007. The aim of the conference was to further collaboration and knowledge sharing between the various agencies involved in the field of cocaine intervention and good practice.  A consistent theme throughout the conference was that progress depended on continued co-operation and partnership between community and voluntary services and statutory agencies. Minister of State with responsibility for drugs strategy, Mr Pat Carey TD, opened the conference. The Minister acknowledged that cocaine presented a serious issue for communities and drug services throughout the country and that an effective response needed continued planning and proper resources. He welcomed SAOL’s initiative in developing a resource pack and organising the conference. These were examples, he said, of the important contribution that the community and voluntary sector makes in the area of problem drug use.  He said that he strongly believed that treatment, particularly in the form of counselling, can and does work, and he noted the commitment to cocaine-specific clinics in the section on drugs in the new Programme for Government. 

Two recurring themes were the dangers of cocaine use the value of partnership as an approach to dealing with drug problems. Patricia O’Connor, director of the National Drugs Strategy Team (NDST), emphasised both of these points. She stressed that cocaine use can, and often does, result in significant health problems and death. In view of these risks, the challenge is to get this message across to all age groups, all sections of the workforce and to those communities already most affected by heroin use. She appealed to the media to play a supportive role in this task and to keep publicising the risks.  Joan Byrne, director of the SAOL project, spoke of the challenge facing services in turning a predominantly opiate-focused treatment system into one that meets the needs of cocaine and polydrug users. She emphasised the importance of information on drug trends and noted the limited role that the experience of local communities has in informing official drug policy. She praised the work and the partnership approach of the NDST. 

The conference also heard an overview of the recent NACD cocaine report presented by Mairead Lyons, NACD director. Siobhán Cafferty outlined the tools which comprise the Cocaine Resource Pack: a CD for low-threshold, chaotic users who are unable to commit to attending a project on a regular basis; Relapse Worksheets, for those who can attend projects or services on a more regular basis and who have an established relationship with a key worker; and Reduce the Use, a booklet for those in the contemplation stage who are linked in with a project/service on a more regular basis. Tony Duffin of the Ana Liffey Drug Project described a new, joint community/statutory harm reduction campaign targeting injecting cocaine users. The conference also heard a report from the HSE on plans for addressing cocaine use and examples of effective responses in Tallaght with a client group not traditionally engaged with drug services. The role of holistic treatments in dealing with problem drug use was described, and was a theme of the one of the conference workshops.


Copies of the report on the conference are available from SAOL.  Contact


Item Type
Issue Title
Issue 23, Autumn 2007
July 2007
Page Range
p. 11
Health Research Board
Issue 23, Autumn 2007
Accession Number
HRB (Available)

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