Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 601 - Substance misuse [42435/13].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 601 - Substance misuse [42435/13]. (08 Oct 2013)

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601. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Health in view of the increasing diversity of illicit drugs and prescribed drugs being abused in deprived parts of Irish cities and towns and increasingly in conjunction with increased consumption of cheap alcohol and consequent damage to persons, families and communities, the way he will work with communities in facing the challenges of addiction and health resulting from these patterns of poly-drug use among varying age groups; if he is committed to a local integrated solution based approach; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42435/13] 

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Drugs misuse continues to be one of the most significant challenges facing our country. It is highly destructive and has devastating effects on individuals, relationships, families, communities and society in general. Recent trends indicate that levels of illicit drug use remained stable in Ireland between 2006/7 and 2010/11. However, polydrug use is increasingly becoming the norm among those who take drugs. The use of two or more substances, often including alcohol, presents substantial risks to those involved, as well as increased challenges for treatment personnel. Moreover, there is clear evidence in relation to the harms caused by alcohol use and misuse to individuals and to Irish society.


Proposals are currently being finalised on foot of the recommendations in the Steering Group Report on a National Substance Misuse Strategy 2012. These proposals cover all of the areas mentioned in the report, including legislation on minimum unit pricing, controls on alcohol advertising and sponsorship and any attended impact on the revenue streams of organisations; labelling of alcohol products; measures on access and availability of alcohol and a social responsibility levy on the drinks industry. The Cabinet Committee on Social Policy has considered these proposals and it is intended to bring forward a finalised package of proposals for consideration by Government very shortly. In the meantime, work on developing a framework for the necessary Department of Health legislation is continuing.


The levels of usage of some prescription medicines, in particular benzodiazepines and z-drugs, are also a matter of concern. As the Deputy will be aware, my Department is preparing amendments to the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 1988 which will include the introduction of measures to address the problem of the illicit trading and supply of benzodiazepines and z-drugs and other updates to the Misuse of Drugs Regulations. The proposed draft Regulations constitute a major amendment to the Misuse of Drugs Regulations. The Government is committed to maintaining the integrated partnership approach which is a hallmark of the National Drugs Strategy. To this end, I will be meeting with representatives of the statutory, community and voluntary sectors and the Drug and Alcohol Task Forces in the coming weeks in order to strengthen and consolidate this approach, including at the local level.

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