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Pike, Brigid (2013) In brief. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 44, Winter 2012, p. 25.

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On 24 April 2012 the UK Drug Policy Commission published Charting new waters: delivering drug policy at a time of radical reform and financial austerity. The study explores the ability of local areas to achieve the ambitions of the UK’s national drugs strategy and the future security of investment in drug interventions. The study reveals a broad picture of upheaval and uncertainty.

On 29 June 2012 a British–Irish Council ministerial meeting on the misuse of drugswas chaired by the then Minister of State Róisín Shortall TD on the island of Jersey. Under the heading ‘Young People and Drugs – Breaking the Cycle’, issues discussed included evidence of trends in drug use among young people, general and targeted prevention measures, early intervention and broader treatment issues. There was particular focus on the need to support young people whose parents are involved in drug use. The Ministers also discussed issues around the use and misuse of alcohol in their jurisdictions; this arose in the context of proposals for the possible expansion of the work of the misuse of drugs sectoral group to include alcohol. www.britishirishcouncil.org
On 17 July 2012 the Sixth annual report of the independent monitoring group for A Vision for Change
was published. The Independent Monitoring Group (IMG) reports that implementation of A Vision for Change (AVFC) has been slow and inconsistent. The IMG states that as a matter of urgency, specialist mental health services for co-morbid severe mental illness and substance abuse problems, inter alia, need to be fully developed and delivered. In addition, government departments, other than the Department of Health and the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, also need to focus on their responsibilities for the implementation of AVFC. According to the IMG, there also needs to be a cultural shift in how mental health services are delivered, moving from professional dominance towards a person-centred, partnership approach, and from a largely medicalised and maintenance approach towards one based on recovery competencies within the biopsychosocial model, as envisaged in AVFC. The IMG notes that the principles and practices of a recovery-oriented service appear to be developing in localised services and this needs to be encouraged and reinforced by a clear national corporate policy implementation framework. http://health.gov.ie/
On 24 July 2012 the Fifth report of the special rapporteur on child protection was laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas. In reporting on recent child protection developments in the United Kingdom, the special rapporteur, Dr Geoffrey Shannon, describes a pilot Family Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC) as ‘a new approach to care proceedingsin cases where parental substance misuse is a key element in the local authority decision to bring proceedings’. Shannon reports that the pilot has shown early signs of success and recommends that such an initiative should be implemented in Ireland. www.dcya.ie
On 25 July 2012 Harm Reduction International (HRI) launched The global state of harm reduction 2012: towards an integrated response. First published in 2008, this third iteration of the report compiles data on international developments since 2010 in HIV prevention among people who inject drugs, including needle and syringe exchange programmes, opioid substitution therapy and drug consumption rooms. The report finds that even in countries that have programmes in place to prevent HIV via unsafe injecting practices, reach and effectiveness are severely undermined in many cases by lack of geographical coverage – Ireland is mentioned in this regard. The report also explores key issues for developing an integrated harm reduction response, such as building effective harm reduction services for women who inject drugs, limited access to harm reduction services by young people, drug use among men who have sex with men, and global progress toward drug decriminalisation and sustainability of services in challenging environments. 
On 8 September 2012 Thomas Szaz, psychiatrist and critic of psychiatry, died aged 92 years. Famous for his critique of the concept of ‘mental illness’, arguing that the term ‘illness’ can only be applied to a body, not a mind, except as a metaphor, Szaz challenged the medicalisation of dysfunctional and illegal forms of behaviour, such as the consumption of illicit drugs, which, he argued, had led to an assumption that individuals, such as drug ‘addicts’, were not responsible for their actions. He argued that drug use was not an ‘addiction’, to be treated as an illness, but a ‘social habit’ to be addressed by the individual as a free agent. Among his 36 books were Ceremonial chemistry: the ritual persecution of drugs, addicts and pushers (1974) and Our right to drugs: the case for a free market (1992).
On 28 September 2012 a Communications paper on approaches to promoting and developing an understanding of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence was published by COSC (The National Office for the Prevention of Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence). The paper provides suggestions and advice for organisations and professionals on developing messages and methods for raising awareness, confronting offending behaviour, and increasing understanding and recognition of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence both in the general population and in two population-specific groupings – the Traveller community and migrant communities. 
On 15 October 2012 A fresh approach to drugs: the final report of the UK Drug Policy Commission was published. The UKDPC proposes a radical rethink of how responses to drug problems are structured. It provides an analysis of the evidence for how policies and interventions could be improved, with recommendations for policymakers and practitioners to address the new and established challenges associated with drug use.
On 16 October 2012 Putting people first: action programme for effective local governmentwas published. Incorporating the final report of the Local Government and Local Development Alignment Steering Group,1 the action programme states, ‘Local government will be the main vehicle of governance and public service at local level – leading economic, social and community development, delivering efficient and good value services, and representing citizens and local communities effectively and accountably.’ www.environ.ie
1.For a description this Steering Group’s interim report, see ‘In brief’ in the last issue of Drugnet Ireland  (No 43, Autumn 2012).
Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
Substances (not alcohol/tobacco)
Issue Title
Issue 44, Winter 2012
January 2013
Page Range
p. 25
Health Research Board
Issue 44, Winter 2012
Accession Number
HRB (Electronic Only)

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