Home > Minister Hildegarde Naughton welcomes progress in the implementation of the national drugs strategy in 2023.

[Department of Health] Minister Hildegarde Naughton welcomes progress in the implementation of the national drugs strategy in 2023. (08 Dec 2023)

External website: https://www.gov.ie/en/press-release/c7341-minister...

The Minister for Public Health, Wellbeing and the National Drugs Strategy Hildegarde Naughton has highlighted the progress in the implementation of the strategic action plan for the national drugs strategy Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery. She was speaking as she chaired the final meeting for 2023 of the National Oversight Committee which provides leadership and direction in the implementation of the strategy.

Highlights for 2023 include:

  • roll-out of national inter-agency model to address drug-related intimidation and violence (DRIVE)
  • commencement of national drug prevention and education programme
  • increased provision of community-based drug services
  • expansion of back-of-house drug testing at festivals
  • interactive map of drug services in the new HSE health regions
  • national funding to enhance family support services and services for children impacted by parental drug and alcohol use
  • expansion of the Housing First programme to support the recovery of people from addiction and homelessness

Minister Naughton said:
"This year we have seen significant progress in the funding and delivery of vital initiatives designed to implement the national drugs strategy. This work is enabled through the strategic implementation groups and their independent chairs, and supported by constructive collaboration with stakeholders, under the auspices of the National Oversight Committee. "The services and projects that have been developed are making a tangible difference to communities, families and individuals affected by drug use. It’s vital that civil society organisations, drug task forces and community-based service providers have a voice in drugs policy, and the diverse membership of the NOC and the strategic implementation groups ensures that all voices are heard. "As we await the final report of the Citizen’s Assembly on Drug Use, the advice and support of the NOC will be critical in planning and developing the next steps in drug policy."

The National Oversight Committee meets four times a year to provide leadership and direction in the implementation of the national drugs strategy. It includes members from across the statutory, community and voluntary sector as well as clinical and academic expertise and other stakeholders. The Strategic Implementation Groups (SIGs) were established in 2022 to support the implementation of the 6 new strategic priorities that arose from the midterm review of the National Drugs Strategy. These groups sit under the National Oversight Committee. The strategic priorities strengthen the health-led approach, reflect commitments in the Programme for Government and align with the EU drugs strategy and action plan 2021-2025.

The Department of Health funds the DRIVE programme (Drug-Related Intimidation and Violence Engagement) interagency initiative which supports victims of drug-related intimidation and violence and works to build the capacity of communities to response to this issue through training, resources and signposting to specialist support services. Funding for community-based drug services in 2023 has included 45 addiction and social inclusion projects. In addition, €240,000 has been allocated to the HSE to provide family supports. In 2023, €1.5 million was provided for five projects working to strengthen the prevention of drug and alcohol use and associated harms among children and young people. More information is available. Under the HSE’s Safer Nightlife programme, back of house drug testing took place at four festivals this year, with a total of 220 substances tested. The programme will be further expanded in 2024.

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