Tuesday, 17 January 2012
Dáil Éireann Debate
417. Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin asked the Minister for Health if he has any plans to introduce drug rehabilitation reforms at this time similar to programmes introduced in Portugal, which focuses resources on rehabilitation through education, training and therapy and succeeded in reducing illegal drug use; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2154/12]
Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Róisín Shortall): I understand that Portugal has introduced a package of measures across the areas of prevention, harm reduction, treatment and rehabilitation, as well as the decriminalisation of the possession of drugs that were deemed to be for personal use. Apart from the decriminalisation aspect, the approach to dealing with the drugs problem is broadly similar in the two countries.
Rehabilitation is one of the key pillars of the National Drugs Strategy. I am particularly focused on ensuring that there is an increased emphasis on moving people on from drug treatment to a drug-free life where that is achievable. Apart from the obvious benefits to the people involved, this will open up more treatment opportunities, allowing us to encourage more people into treatment.
The Report of the Working Group on Drugs Rehabilitation sets out the framework for our multifaceted approach to the delivery of rehabilitation. Considerable success has been achieved with an increased number of people in the opiate substitution programme, increased availability of residential detoxification facilities as well as more places in rehabilitation programmes. This work is being complemented by greater focus in drugs treatment services on integrated care plans for individuals and more co-ordinated inter-agency working.
Last November I launched the first results from the Drug Prevalence Survey 2010/2011 and these indicate that use of drugs in the last year was stable, and had decreased in the case of many drugs. This is an encouraging outcome and we will continue to push for improved results in the coming years.
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