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Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 688 - National Drugs Strategy implementation [20374/15].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 688 - National Drugs Strategy implementation [20374/15]. (26 May 2015)

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688. Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor asked the Minister for Health the steps being taken to tackle drug misuse, particularly among young persons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20374/15]


Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin) Government's response to the problem of drug misuse in our society is set out in the National Drugs Strategy 2009-2016. The Strategy is a cross cutting area of public policy and service delivery which requires a co-ordinated approach across many Government Departments and Agencies, in conjunction with the Community and Voluntary sectors to tackling the drugs problem.


Prevention and awareness programmes constitute a significant part of the Government's response to the drug problem particularly among young persons. The Social Personal Health Education (SPHE) Programme is the foundation for developing awareness of drug and alcohol issues in schools. The Department of Health's Drugs Initiative provides almost €4m in funding to 61 education and prevention-specific community drugs projects. Local and Regional Drug and Alcohol Task Forces operate a range of education and prevention programmes locally which aim to promote healthier lifestyle choices among young people and other vulnerable groups at risk of problem drug use.


In addition, young people at risk of drug misuse can access diversionary programmes, facilities and services and family support. Significant investment is being made in the Garda Youth Diversion Programme, which seeks to divert at risk young people from becoming involved in criminal behaviour including drug-related crime and in preventing their succumbing to drug misuse.


The provision of appropriate and timely treatment services is a key goal of the Strategy. At the end of December 2014, 100% of those under 18 received treatment within one week of assessment and 97% of clients over the age of 18 accessed treatment within one calendar month of assessment. An additional €2.1 million has been provided in the HSE budget this year for measures targeting vulnerable problem drug users, including the provision of more residential detoxification and rehabilitation places.


The Department of Health is beginning work on the development of a new Strategy for the period after 2016. The process will include a comprehensive consultation with key stakeholders and the public on the current national drugs policy and future priorities. It will also take account of evidence-based research, information and data sources on the extent and nature of problem drug use in Ireland. As Minister with lead responsibility for drugs policy, I will play an active role in the development of the new strategy and I look forward to engaging with all interested parties in this work.

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