Home > Ireland: national report for 2023 – drug policy.

Health Research Board. Irish National Focal Point to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. (2024) Ireland: national report for 2023 – drug policy. Dublin: Health Research Board.

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A new national drug strategy titled Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery: A health-led response to drug and alcohol use in Ireland 2017-2025 was launched in July 2017 (Department of Health 2017). While the strategy is structured around cross-cutting goals rather than the pillars of the previous strategy, its content largely follows on from that of the previous strategy with an increased emphasis on a health-led approach to addressing the drug situation in Ireland (Department of Community 2009). It reflects the commitment made by Government in May 2016 ‘to pursue a health-led rather than a criminal justice approach to drug use’ (Government of Ireland 2016). It is also the first integrated drug and alcohol strategy in Ireland. The new strategy defines substance misuse as ‘the harmful or hazardous use of psychoactive substances, including alcohol, illegal drugs and the abuse of prescription medicines’ (p. 7 (Department of Health 2017)).


The strategy covers an eight-year period (2017–2025), and is accompanied by a shorter-term action plan (2017–2020). The strategy’s vision is for: ‘A healthier and safer Ireland, where public health and safety is protected and the harms caused to individuals, families and communities by substance misuse are reduced and every person affected by substance use is empowered to improve their health and wellbeing and quality of life.’


The five strategic goals are:

  1. To promote and protect health and well-being
  2. To minimise the harms caused by the use and misuse of substances and promote rehabilitation and recovery
  3. To address the harms of drug markets and reduce access to drugs for harmful use
  4. To support participation of individuals, families and communities
  5. To develop sound and comprehensive evidence-informed policies and actions. 

A final substantive chapter focuses on what is termed ‘strengthening the performance of the strategy’. There are two key elements to this: measuring performance, and the structures supporting the implementation of the strategy. There are two key elements to this: performance measurement, and the structures supporting the implementation of the strategy. Government Departments with responsibility for implementing various actions in the strategy include: Health (overall responsibility); Education; Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth; Social Protection; Housing, Local Government and Heritage; Justice; and Transport.


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