The National Drug Strategy, Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery, runs from 2017-2025, and actions are being prioritised during this timeframe.
Substance misuse prevention strategies are an effective way of promoting health and wellbeing among the general population. They include measures to prevent early use of alcohol and drugs among young people and to minimise harm, where drug use has started. Drug and alcohol task forces have made a significant contribution through local awareness initiatives and evidence-based approaches.
Action 2 of the strategy seeks to improve the delivery of substance use education across all services. It will be delivered by developing a guidance document to ensure substance use education and prevention is delivered in accordance with quality standards. The Health Research Board (HRB) is the lead organisation on this action.
Earlier this year, the HRB organised a forum with drug and alcohol task forces to bring professionals together to hear about best practice in drug education and prevention and to look at ways to advance the sector in Ireland. It included inputs from the European drugs agency on drug prevention best practice, and prevention programmes in Northern Ireland, Scotland and the west of Ireland.
HRB funding in 2018 and 2019 has been prioritised to carry out the drug prevalence general population survey. Once the survey has been completed, the HRB will be in a position to allocate resources to further progress this action.
I am committed to developing a health promotion approach to addressing substance misuse in conjunction with Healthy Ireland, the Dept of Education. and other relevant actors.