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Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 600 - Substance misuse. [35614/11]

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 600 - Substance misuse. [35614/11]. (22 Nov 2011)

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600. Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Health the efforts he is making to tackle the alcohol and substance abuse problem here. [35614/11]  

601. Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Health the efforts he has made to ban below cost selling of alcohol; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35615/11]
603. Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Health when the national substance misuse strategy will be published; if the steering group developing proposals for inclusion in the strategy are giving due consideration to the alcohol abuse and misuse problem here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35620/11]
Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): I propose to take Questions Nos. 600, 601 and 603 together.
I assume that the Deputy is referring in her question to a minimum price for alcohol. Minimum pricing is a mechanism of imposing a statutory floor in price levels for alcohol products that must be legally observed by retailers; it’s primary function would be to discourage at risk levels of alcohol consumption. A National Substance Misuse Strategy was established in 2009. It is examining the development of policy to deal with a wide range of key issues relating to the supply, pricing, availability and marketing of alcohol – including the question of a minimum price for alcohol - along with measures for the policy areas of prevention strategies, treatment, rehabilitation and substance dependency, research and information. The report of the Steering Group is close to completion. I expect to receive proposals in the coming months and I will then brief my colleagues in Government on these.
In the meantime, the health promotion services of the Health Service Executive (HSE) are undertaking key activities nationally to address the issue of alcohol misuse. In the Education setting, current activities include support for the Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) programme; alcohol and drug awareness training for teachers/staff and parents; the development of a substance use policy; and the current development of materials for young people on alcohol by – among others – HSE staff and representatives from a variety of organisations.
In the community setting, the health promotion services are engaged in a number of programmes and projects. These include the Putting the Pieces Together programme that targets youth between the ages of 10 to 18 years, parents and communities of mixed abilities in literacy skills for the purpose of tackling substance use in the community; the Strengthening Families programme that is an evidence based parenting skills, children’s life skills and family life skills training programme aimed at preventing and reducing alcohol and drug misuse; a community training programme that provides scheduled and on-demand training to community groups on alcohol awareness; a social marketing programme made up of national media campaigns using information websites such as, and – along with regional awareness raising events such as Drug Awareness week; club projects that are developed on a partnership basis for the purpose of working with the owners and staff of licensed premises to identify and address issues arising from alcohol and drug misuse in their venues and local areas.
In the health setting, the HSE is developing a Brief Interventions/Skills health training programme for HSE staff to include a module for addressing alcohol related risk behaviours. A report on the work of “Towards a Framework for Implementing Evidence Based Alcohol Interventions” and the results of a feasibility test for screening and brief interventions in four hospital emergency departments was completed in July 2011. The results show that there was good cooperation from the public with only 6% declining to be screened. The screening tool detected 36% requiring brief advice and 9% required referral to specialist services. In total 49% required no further intervention.
Following from the report’s recommendations, the project has finalised A Guiding Framework for Education and Training in Screening and Brief Intervention for Problem Alcohol Use for Nurses and Midwives in Acute, Primary and Community Care Settings. This framework has been developed in partnership with the Office of Nursing and Midwifery Services Director. It aims to provide a standardised approach for the education and training of Nurses, Midwives and Allied Health Professionals who undertake screening and brief intervention. The framework supports safe, quality and effective care for service users who access healthcare across the HSE and promotes the effective management of problem alcohol use in acute, primary and community care settings.
In partnership with, the project is at an advanced stage in the development of an online alcohol self-assessment tool and video-based brief interventions. This will initially be rolled out on and on the FaceBook page. HSE staff will have access to an online alcohol self assessment tool both as a patient resource and for personal use. The aim of the online intervention is to identify “at risk” individuals among the general population. Those whose alcohol use is likely to be harming their health or increasing their risk of future harm are the main target group intended to benefit from this initiative.
Finally, the HSE has provided funding to a number of organisations in 2011- such as Alcohol Action Ireland, the Coombe Hospital, Crosscare, GAA, Northwest Alcohol Forum, Trinity College, and No Name clubs for various initiatives, activities and research in the area of alcohol and drugs misuse.


Written Answers - Substance Misuse
Vol. 747 No. 3
Tuesday, 22 November 2011

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