Home > Dáil Éireann debate. Written answer 278 - Drug dealing [Prevalence] [9021/22].

[Oireachtas] Dáil Éireann debate. Written answer 278 - Drug dealing [Prevalence] [9021/22]. (17 Feb 2022)

External website: https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2022...

278. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health the extent to which serious drug abuse exists, by county and by location; the plans in hand to deal with the situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9021/22]

Frank Feighan, Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Frankie Feighan): The National Drug and Alcohol Survey (NDAS) collects information on alcohol and tobacco consumption and drug use among the general population. It also surveys people’s attitudes and perceptions relating to tobacco, alcohol, and other drug use and records the impact of drug use on communities. The 2019–2020 NDAS collected information from 5,762 people aged 15 years and older across Ireland. 

The Heath Research Board (HRB) published the 2019-2020 NDAS findings in July 2021. The findings show that, overall, the use of illegal drugs has remained at a similar level to that recorded in the 2014/15 survey, while an increase was seen in the use of cocaine and ecstasy. Cannabis is still the most prevalent illegal drug used in Ireland, but has also shown a decrease from 6.5% to 5.9% when compared to the 2014/15 survey. A significant decrease in the instances of Cannabis Use Disorder has also been recorded. 

The HRB is current analysing the survey data by CHO and the results will be published in the coming months. 

I recently announced a €2 million community services enhancement fund to enhance community-based drug and alcohol services. The aim of the fund is to enhance access to and delivery of drug and alcohol services in the community, which is a strategic priority for the national drugs strategy 2021-2025. 

I have allocated between €200,000 and €240,000 per annum to the nine community healthcare organisations (CHOs). The funding will be allocated on three-year cycle, with ongoing monitoring and evaluation, to ensure that services are effective in addressing the needs of people who use drugs and alcohol. Twenty-five percent of the funding allocations is ring-fenced to increase access to and the provision of drug and alcohol services for women, ethnic minorities and the LGBTI+ community. 

Profiling the drug and alcohol needs of the population across the CHO, including data from the NDAS, will enable the development of new services and the measurement of their impact over time. Already, we are seeing new drug & alcohol needs emerge, whether in the night-time economy, among young people, in disadvantaged communities or polydrug use. 

I believe that drug and alcohol services should be provided based on population needs, as this is both equitable and evidence-based. I also want services to be delivered in the community so that health care is closer to people’s homes, as set out in the Sláintecare reform programme. By integrating drug and alcohol services as part of community care, the health needs of people who use drugs can be better met and the stigma of drug and alcohol use can be reduced. These are practical steps to strengthen the health-led response to drug and alcohol use. 

I am also allocating €850,000 for an initiative to reduce the health-related harms from cocaine and crack cocaine. This initiative will target disadvantaged communities that are worst affected by cocaine and crack cocaine and contribute to a whole of government response to the social determinants and consequences of drug use in these communities. 

In June 2021 the Health Research Board (HRB) published the National Drug and Alcohol Survey 2019/20. This survey, which is funded by the Department of Health and managed by the HRB, provides information on alcohol, tobacco, and drug use amongst the general population in Ireland. Results of the survey can be found at the following link: www.drugsandalcohol.ie/34287/

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