Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 632 - National Drugs Strategy [37749/16].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 632 - National Drugs Strategy [37749/16]. (29 Nov 2016)

632. Deputy Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Healththe measures that apply to specifically address the issue of recreational drug users; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37749/16]


Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Catherine Byrne):  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.


Prevention and Education programmes constitute a significant part of the Government's response to the drug problem, particularly among young persons. The current Strategy contains an action to develop a sustained range of awareness campaigns that target third level educational institutions, workplaces and recreational venues. The HSE has implemented a number of targeted awareness campaigns through the drugs.ie website, relating to the use of new psychoactive substances, ketamine and pills. These campaigns provide harm reduction information and advice, while emphasising that it's always safest not to take unknown or illicit drugs at all. In addition, the HSE Addiction service provides non-judgemental, evidence based treatment interventions to individuals presenting with problems associated with a range of licit and illicit substances.


Substance use education in schools is provided in the context of Social Personal and Health Education. The Department of Education and Skills' 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.


As the Deputy will be aware, a Steering Committee, with an independent chair, has been established to advise me on a new National Drugs Strategy, which will commence in 2017, when the current policy expires. I understand that the need for prevention and education programmes that raise awareness of the risks and harms associated with recreational drug use is one of the key issues emerging from the multi-stakeholder focus groups, which will advise the Steering Committee on measures to address gaps in the current response to the drug problem. It is expected that the focus groups will shortly conclude their work and report back to the Steering Committee. I am expecting the final report of the Steering Committee early in the New Year.

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