The national drugs strategy Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery is a health-led response to the problem of drug and alcohol use in Ireland. The strategy is underpinned by a partnership approach between the statutory, non-statutory and community and voluntary sectors.
Drug and alcohol task forces play a key role in assessing the extent and nature of the drug problem in local communities. They ensure that a coordinated approach is taken across all sectors to address substance misuse based on the identified needs and priorities in their areas.
The task forces oversee an annual budget of €28m from the Department of Health and the HSE. This funding supports over 280 community projects, in local areas and communities throughout the country, to support initiatives to tackle drug and alcohol use and misuse.
Additional funding of €1m has been provided for the implementation of the National Drugs Strategy in 2019. This included €480,000 to provide an additional €20,000 for each of the 24 Task Forces, €10,000 of which will be on a permanent recurring basis. It also funds 13 strategic initiatives to respond to emerging trends in substance misuse and to improve access to services for people with complex needs. The initiatives were developed by task forces in conjunction with community healthcare organisations.
The Department of Health provides annual funding of over €200,000 to support, develop and facilitate the involvement of communities in the local and national structures for implementing the National Drugs Strategy. In addition, there are 11 community and voluntary representatives on the oversight structures of the strategy.
I am committed to implementing an integrated public health response to substance misuse. Working in partnership with statutory, community and voluntary sectors is central to this response, and I am confident the new strategic initiatives will have a positive impact and make a difference to people’s lives as they journey to recovery.
The decision earlier this year to introduce a health diversion programme for persons in possession of drugs for personal use is a hugely important step in developing a public health approach to drug use. It delivers on a person-centred approach to harm reduction, which will benefit individuals and communities affected drug use. I am very pleased that we are delivering on this key commitment in the National Drugs Strategy.