National Drugs Forum 2018:

Working better together by building communities of practice

On 12 November 2018, the Department of Health’s Drugs Policy Unit and the Health Research Board (HRB) hosted the first annual National Drugs Forum in the Aviva Stadium. This event aimed to strengthen the capacity of existing communities of practice and to provide examples for collaborative working across the statutory, community, and voluntary sectors.

 

Objectives of the forum:

  • To support evidence-informed practice and service delivery
  • To promote participation of communities, service users, and their families in national structures
  • To strengthen the implementation and performance of the national drugs strategy.

  

Keynote presentations:

  1. Minyard, Karen and Manteuffel, Brigitte: The power of communities of practice: engaging to create excellence and integrate the system
  2. Sumnall, Harry: What is the evidence for effectiveness in drug prevention and social reintegration? 

Workshop presentations:

  1. Supporting prevention work in the community Environmental prevention interventions aim to limit the individual’s exposure to unhealthy or risky behaviour opportunities, or to promote the availability of healthy options. Interventions can involve directly controlling what is allowable, influencing economic decision making or fostering behavioural change through alterations in the environment. Unlike traditional prevention programmes that focus on the individual, the focus is on changing the environment so that it supports the prevention of drug use. A number of locally-based alcohol initiatives have an environmental prevention element.
  2. Dual diagnosis: using partnership and peer support as resources in treatment The definition of dual diagnosis as ‘the coexistence of two or more psychiatric disorders at least one of which is problematic substance use’ is useful but does not reveal the complexity involved in diagnosing and developing effective clinical responses to the problem. Part of this complexity is the challenge faced by both mental health and addiction services in responding to unfamiliar problems. Involving services users, families and practitioner as co-creators of solution may strengthen the effectiveness of interventions
  3. The role of social reintegration in recovery The overall goal of rehabilitation services is to enable people to participate fully in society – emotionally, socially and economically. Social reintegration encompasses work with housing, education, employment and the reestablishment of links with family and community. These are essential parts of the social and physical capital that contribute to recovery.
  4. Harm reduction services: engaging with people who use drugs The shift in drugs policy over the last few years towards a health-led approach has enabled the introduction of a range new high quality services for people who use drugs. Official recognition of the potentially harmful consequences of drug control policy and growing awareness of the problems associated with stigma are also positive developments from a harm reduction perspective. Difficulties remain, particularly in regard to access to services, retention in treatment and dealing with new challenges.