A core objective of the National Drug Strategy, 'Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery', is to promote and protect the health and well-being of our population by delaying the use of alcohol and other drugs among young people.
This is delivered through a number of evidence-based substance use education programmes which are designed to increase the understanding of the harmful effects of substance misuse on the health of the user and other people in the person’s life. It is crucial that young people are equipped to make informed choices about substance use.
There is limited evidence that mass media campaigns are effective at reducing the use of drugs and alcohol. Therefore, the HSE favours more targeted awareness campaigns. For example, it recently launched a resource for parents with practical advice called 'Alcohol and Drugs: A Parents Guide'. The HSE, in partnership with the Union of Students in Ireland have also launched a harm-reduction information campaign, called #SaferStudentNights. The HSE is also currently running a number of initiatives to counteract ecstasy and other drug taking, including a harm reduction campaign through drugs.ie aimed at university students and festival goers.
Together with the Minister for Health and the Minister for Justice, I recently announced a health diversion programme for people in possession of drugs for personal use.
In progressing this work, we continue to communicate the important message that drug use is not acceptable and can seriously damage our health. The Department of Health will therefore launch a targeted awareness campaign about the dangers of drug use next year, aimed at high risk groups, such as festival goers and students.