Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 317 - Drug treatment programmes [8356/16].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 317 - Drug treatment programmes [8356/16]. (26 Apr 2016)

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317. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Health the policies and programmes on prevention and education relating to drugs and alcohol for young persons; if there is dedicated staff in his Department and the Health Service Executive on this matter; and if there have been evaluations of these programmes.  [8356/16]


Minister for Health (Deputy Leo Varadkar): The overall objective of the National Drugs Strategy is to tackle the harm caused to individuals and society by the misuse of drugs through a concerted focus on the five pillars of supply reduction, prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and research. Periodic reviews of progress across the five pillars of the Strategy are carried out through the Oversight Forum on Drugs, which is chaired by the Minister with responsibility for the National Drugs Strategy. The 2015 progress report on the National Drugs Strategy was recently posted on my Department's website at http://health.gov.ie/.


 Prevention and Education programmes constitute a significant part of the Government's response to the drug problem, particularly among young persons. Substance use education in schools is provided in the context of Social Personal and Health Education. The Department of Education and Skills's Inspectorate continues to monitor the effectiveness of the implementation of substance use policies in schools through the whole-school evaluation process and the inspectorate system. Local and Regional Drug and Alcohol Task Forces operate a range of education and prevention programmes, 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.


  There are dedicated staff in my Department and in the Health Service Executive working on social inclusion, health and wellbeing and drugs policy and services. The HSE has appointed a Policy Priority National Lead for Alcohol, who is responsible for developing a new resource on Alcohol Misuse for Senior Cycle students. Responding to Excessive Alcohol Consumption at Third-level (REACT) project, which is currently underway, aims to develop a National Accreditation and Award System for 3rd level institutions, recognising and rewarding an institution’s efforts to reduce alcohol-related harm among its students. This programme involves collaboration between my Department, the HSE, the Union of Students of Ireland and the Irish Student Health Association. The HSE also funds a number of voluntary agencies that work in the area of reduction of alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harm among young people.


  Finally, my Department has commenced work on the development of a new Strategy for the period after 2016. This process will involve a comprehensive consultation with key stakeholders and the public on the current national drugs policy and future priorities. A Steering Committee with an independent chair has been set up to oversee the development of the new Strategy and focus groups are being established to advise the Committee on priorities for the next Strategy in relation to supply reduction, continuum of care, education and prevention and evidence and best practice.

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