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Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 485 - National drugs strategy [16068/16].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 485 - National drugs strategy [16068/16]. (14 Jun 2016)

External website: http://oireachtasdebates.oireachtas.ie/Debates%20A...


485. Deputy Jack Chambersasked the Minister for Health if there has been a reduction in the number of persons engaged in poly-drug use or in the level of drug misuse reported by school students, as targeted in the national drugs strategy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16068/16]

 

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Catherine Byrne): Government's response to the problem of drug misuse in our society is set out in the National Drugs Strategy 2009-2016. 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.

 

The nature and scale of drug misuse has changed in recent years, with an increased prevalence of polydrug use which is the problem use of more than one drug, including alcohol. Polydrug use can make treating the person more difficult and often increases the complexity of the case. It can also make the treatment of overdose more complicated. Health Research Board figures indicate that polydrug use is a common issue among those presenting at drug and alcohol treatment services. Between 2009 and 2013, 63% of those treated for a drug as their main problem substance also reported problem use of other substances, mainly alcohol, benzodiazepines and cannabis. Figures from the Health Research Board for recent years also indicate that the number of polydrug deaths has overtaken the number of single drug deaths. This highlights the need to have an integrated public health approach to substance misuse.

 

The 2011 European School Survey Project on Alcohol and other Drugs (ESPAD), which contains data on substance use among 15-16 year old students, confirms that there was no change in lifetime use of cannabis among Irish students and a decrease in the lifetime use of other illicit drugs between 2007 and 2011. The 2015 wave of the survey, which will also feature data on Irish students, will be published in September 2016.

The Department of Health is developing a new National Drugs Strategy, which will cover the period from 2017 onwards. A Steering Committee has been established to advise me on how the new Strategy should address problem drug use, including the structures through which this could be done, and incorporating performance indicators to measure the future effectiveness of the new Strategy.

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