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Home > Community drug projects: responding to drug-related harms from a community development approach.

O'Gorman, Aileen (2020) Community drug projects: responding to drug-related harms from a community development approach. Dublin: Citywide.

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As the EMCDDA has noted, people in addiction are often more common in marginalised communities and are vulnerable to COIVD-19 at multiple levels including underlying health issues, mental health, social marginalisation, higher economic and social vulnerabilities, criminalisation and stigma. As noted in this report, Community Drug Projects, supported through Drug and Alcohol Task Forces (DATFs), have maintained a long and impressive tradition of responding to the needs of people experiencing drug-related harms in their communities. On a daily basis, they work with people with multiple interdependent needs through a ‘whole person’ and ‘whole community’ approach. They do so in the knowledge that the drug-related harms they witness are largely social and inseparable from broader structural and systemic inequalities. 

Community Drug Projects working in, and with, communities of disadvantage have been to the forefront in identifying and addressing COVID-19-related issues locally. This “whole person” and “whole community” approach has been crucial to the effectiveness of the response to the impact of Covid, as outlined by Citywide in a report submitted to the Dept. of Health. As outlined in this report, Projects’ responses are informed by community development principles and based on the analysis that people’s drug and alcohol related problems cannot be addressed in isolation from their context. As a result, five key characteristics of their work practice exemplify their unique contribution to their communities, these are that they:

  1. Provide accessible, inclusive, and safe community spaces.
  2. Deliver trauma informed care.
  3. Facilitate participation and integration.
  4. Respond to unmet and emerging needs.
  5. Act collectively: through interagency and partnership work. 

Key to this approach is their capacity to:

  • reach and support people in crisis and adversity,
  • work with people ‘where they are at’,
  • provide wraparound services to individuals, families, and communities,
  • engage in anti-discriminatory, and anti-oppressive practice,
  • mediate fractured family and community relations,
  • promote participative peer-led support,
  • identify and respond rapidly to emerging needs,
  • adapt to changing drug trends and drug-related harms,
  • work in an inter-agency partnership approach to co-produce services, and
  • develop innovative community development initiatives to address the broader needs of people and the community.
  • reach and support people in crisis and adversity,
  • work with people ‘where they are at’,
  • provide wraparound services to individuals, families, and communities,
  • engage in anti-discriminatory, and anti-oppressive practice,
  • mediate fractured family and community relations,
  • promote participative peer-led support,
  • identify and respond rapidly to emerging needs,
  • adapt to changing drug trends and drug-related harms,
  • work in an inter-agency partnership approach to co-produce services, and
  • develop innovative community development initiatives to address the broader needs of people and the community.

 

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