New National Drugs Strategy "Needs Resourcing & Rigorous Leadership"

The new National Drugs Strategy must prove to be more than a "glossy launch" and "deliver results" for those "suffering" with addiction across Ireland, warns Fianna Fáil Spokesperson for National drugs Strategy, Jack Chambers TD.

The Deputy made the comments following yesterday's launch of the Government’s new National Drugs Strategy; "Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery" which will now be put in place for the next 10 years.

The Dublin West TD tells Hot Press: "Problem drug use continues to evolve into one of the greatest threats facing our society and destroys thousands of lives each year.

"The previous strategy which ran from 2008 to 2016 expired last year and it was highly anticipated that the new policy would take account of the changing nature of drug addiction and drug use over the past decade."

Chambers says that he "broadly welcome the new strategy" but stresses that he remains "unconvinced of its capacity to tackle Ireland’s drug epidemic until resources are made available to enable its implementation".

He explains, “It is well acknowledged that those seeking drug treatment services tend to have better outcomes when these services are located within their own communities. The expansion of local community led drug projects and needs based services is a crucial element of the challenge to curb Ireland’s drug crisis.

“If this Government is serious about promoting rehabilitation and recovery, then they will end cuts to vital services such as Adapt in Blanchardtown and better support facilities such as those provided in Tiglin, Co. Wicklow.

“Many of those suffering with an addiction are eager to move beyond harm reduction, active drug-use and onto living a life beyond a dependency on drugs. Yet according to the Department of Health and HSE, there are currently just 144 detox beds across the country and 1/3 of those are based in Dublin.

"Methadone is the most common treatment for heroin addiction, those who take it often have a tendency to return to problem drug use. In recent years, research has highlighted the need to explore alternatives to methadone treatment and it is disappointing that this new strategy does not recommend looking at alternative treatments.

“Furthermore, I do not believe that the proposed National Oversight Committee, which is set to meet just four times a year, is going to provide the required level of oversight. This needs to immediately change and the Minister should mirror the Road Safety Authority model."

He concludes, “Innovative ideas in a glossy document are just the first step in attaining better health and social outcomes for all suffering with drug or alcohol addiction.“It is believed that statistically two drug related deaths occur every day in Ireland. These deaths are likely to increase if we continue to attempt to tackle a 2017 phenomenon with a strategy that is not supported with funding.

“A more concerted effort is required to improve access to treatment and the Government’s window dressing will do little to achieve that."

“This Government has a responsibility to match their devised strategy with the necessary resources to support those on the ground in communities across Ireland, working tirelessly to tackle problem drug use,” concluded Deputy Chambers.


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