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Taoiseach Launches 'Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery'

20170717 Reducing Harm Post

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar addresses the 'Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery' launch

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar today joined Health Minister Simon Harris and Minister of State Catherine Byrne to launch “Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery – a health led response to drug and alcohol use in Ireland 2017-2025”.

Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery lays out the direction of government policy on drug and alcohol use until 2025. The new strategy aims to provide an integrated public health approach to drug and alcohol use, focused on promoting healthier lifestyles within society.

The vision of the strategy is to create a healthier and safer Ireland, and its actions will contribute towards improving the health, wellbeing and safety of the population of Ireland in the coming years.

Launching the strategy the Taoiseach said:

For the ideal of a Republic of Opportunity to be meaningful, it must apply to all. Treating substance abuse and drug addiction as a public health issue, rather than a criminal justice issue, helps individuals, helps families, and helps communities. It reduces crime because it rebuilds lives. So it helps all of us.

Ireland has a problem with substance misuse. Rates of drug use in Ireland have risen significantly over the past decade, with the greatest increases among younger people. These issues highlight the need to intervene effectively to reduce the harms associated with substance misuse, and combat the underlying reasons for the demand for drugs. Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery represents a whole-of-government response to the problem of drug and alcohol use in Ireland. It recognises the importance of supporting the participation of communities in key decision making structures, so that their experience and knowledge informs the development of solutions to solve problems related to substance misuse in their areas. It emphasises a health-led response to drug and alcohol use, based on providing person-centred services that promote rehabilitation and recovery.

Health Minister Simon Harris said:

I welcome the focus in Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery on improving access to drug and alcohol treatment and rehabilitation services.  I am especially glad to see specific commitments in the strategy to expand services for young people under 18 and to recruit more Drug Liaison Midwives to work with pregnant women with substance misuse issues. We must all work together now to respond to Ireland’s drug and alcohol problem and ensure the ambitious but achievable actions contained in “Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery” are implemented in full, for the good of all of our people.

Minister of State for Health Promotion and the National Drugs Strategy, Catherine Byrne said:

Ireland has a high level of alcohol consumption and many Irish people engage in harmful drinking patterns, which have significant health, social and economic costs. I welcome the fact that under this strategy, Drug and Alcohol Task Forces will be resourced to continue their work in raising awareness in communities of alcohol-related harm.

Read the full press release here.

Download the Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery document here.