Home > Ana Liffey’s SMS service for drug users.

Duffin, Tony and Galvin, Brian (2009) Ana Liffey’s SMS service for drug users. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 31, Autumn 2009, p. 25.

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On 30 June 2009 the Ana Liffey Drug Project launched the ‘Duck, Dive and Survive’ SMS service. This service enables Ana Liffey to offer real time information on reducing the risks associated with drug use and provide essential health and service-related information. There is a high rate of mobile telephone use among Ana Liffey’s clients and this innovative approach adopts this technology to communicate with people who use drugs. 

Ana Liffey used the special bursary it received as winner of the New Initiatives category of the Crystal Clear MSD Health Literacy Award 2009 to establish the service.
Information provided by SMS includes:
·          changes to opening times of key services;
·          advice on overdose risks and prevention, particularly during festive/holiday periods which Ana Liffey suspects are times when overdoses are more likely;
·          new trends and dangers relating to illicit drug use – the North Inner City Drugs Task Force will use the SMS service to get key information to service users;
·          information from service users – Ana Liffey works with the service users’ 'Peer Support Group' to identify key messages to be sent to their peers.
An example of a group text message sent to people who attended the Ana Liffey project during June 2009 is:
OVERDOSE: Don't panic. Put them in the recovery position, dial 999, ask for an ambulance and stay with them until the ambulance arrives. Ana Liffey: 1800786828
Following feedback from service users, the providers of the service realised that, to be effective, the messages sent must get to the point quickly and should ideally name the issue and the action to be taken. Messages can be no more then 160 characters (including spaces) to allow for the message to be sent in one go. Messages can be personalised by having the person’s first name appear at the beginning of the text, but this also uses up text characters. 
A total of 2243 text messages were sent during the first 13 weeks after the launch of the service, and by mid-August 73 Ana Liffey service users had signed up.
The Swansea Drugs Project (Wales) has followed the example of the ’Duck, Dive and Survive‘ SMS service and they are establishing an SMS service of their own.
To date, messages have been developed in a reactive way, addressing issues identified by the Ana Liffey team and external issues affecting the client group. A reactive service is necessary, and is one of the strengths of such a mass communication tool. However, the next phase of SMS delivery will involve the development of targeted health campaigns sent at strategic times. This campaign will build on the success of the texts as developed to date.
Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
Substances (not alcohol/tobacco)
Intervention Type
Harm reduction
Issue Title
Issue 31, Autumn 2009
October 2009
Page Range
p. 25
Health Research Board
Issue 31, Autumn 2009
Accession Number
HRB (Available)

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