Limerick East): The provision of treatment and rehabilitation services for drug misusers is a matter for health boards in the first instance. Drug misuse in this country takes two forms, the misuse of so-called “soft” drugs such as cannabis and ecstasy, which is prevalent throughout the country, and the misuse of heroin, which is confined mainly to certain parts of Dublin. In the case of cannabis and ecstasy what is needed is education and prevention campaigns to discourage young people from becoming involved with such drugs and in addition, harm reduction messages for those who are already using these drugs.
The Government decided in February of this year to implement a range of measures aimed at reducing the demand for drugs. These included provision for a media campaign aimed at raising awareness about the dangers of drugs. This campaign was run initially on radio and television during July and a further burst is being run currently. A drug information line was set up in association with the campaign in July. In addition, each health board has been instructed to put in place structures which will enable it to respond to drug misuse problems which may arise.
Included in these are the establishment of regional co-ordinating committees to monitor the extent of the problem and to advise on the development of education and prevention measures.
The problem of heroin misuse in certain parts of Dublin requires a different response. There are no hard data available on the numbers involved, but the Health Research Board has provided information on persons treated for drug misuse in the Dublin area as follows: