Written Answers. - National Drugs Strategy.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

252 Mr. O'Dowd asked the Minister for Health and Children the action he intends to take under the national drugs strategy to provide drug-free recovery facilities for people aged under 18 years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [217837/03]

Responsibility for the provision of drug treatment services rests with the health boards in the first instance. I have been advised by the Eastern Regional Health Authority that the three area health boards within the eastern region provide detoxification and rehabilitation services on both an in-patient and out-patient bases. Those under 18 years of age are prioritised for these services. The three boards also utilise in-patient rehabilitation services outside the eastern region; there are eight units that are currently utilised. This list is not static and may change from time to time depending on the need.

The development of a protocol for the treatment of those under 18 presenting with serious drug problems is one of the actions set out in the National Drugs Strategy 2001-2008. A working group, chaired by an official from my Department and comprising members of both the statutory and voluntary sectors, has been established to implement this particular action. The extensive and ongoing work of the group includes a literature review of best practice, a consideration of the legal issues involved in the provision of treatment to those under 18 and a review of the current level of service provision in the area. The group expects to be in a position to finalise its report by the end of the year.