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Written Answers. - Drug Abuse.

Wednesday, 18 December 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 559 No. 6

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 193. Mr. O'Dowd Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  asked the Minister for Health and Children Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin  the early intervention measures which are being implemented into incidents of drug and alcohol misuse by young people; his views on whether such measures are effective; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24538/02]

Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Martin): Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin I have expressed my concerns about the issue of drug and alcohol misuse by young people on a number of occasions. In response to this very complex issue the Government developed the National Drug Strategy 2001-2008 Building on Experience which was published last year. This followed a national consultative process which identified local, regional and national issues and concerns. The eight-year strategy is being co-ordinated by the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs across all sectors and Departments. The actions in the strategy are [1570]taken under the four headings of prevention, supply reduction, treatment and research. The role of the voluntary and community sector in both the prevention and treatment of drug misuse is central to this strategy, particularly in relation to young people and local community action.

Significant progress is also being made nationally in the prevention actions set down in the strategy. In addition to the implementation of the social, personal and health education – SPHE – curriculum, all schools have received guidelines for the development of a school substance use policy. The national youth health programme offers similar support for the non-formal education sector.

The health promotion unit of my Department is currently engaged in a three year alcohol awareness campaign entitled ‘Less is More – It's your choice'. Some phases of the campaign have focused on: those who buy or supply alcohol to those under age with a poster and radio messages with the theme of keeping children safe from drink; third level students in the restaurants of colleges with some facts on alcohol and a reminder that alcohol can affect one's finances, studies and health; youth leaders and health professionals in each of the health board areas to identify best practice initiatives within communities that promote awareness of alcohol to young people.

The recommendations of the strategic task force on alcohol, which I established earlier this year, are framed using the ten strategy areas for alcohol action outlined in the WHO European charter on alcohol. These strategies which include the provision of effective treatment services and the provision of information and education are based on sound scientific evidence.

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