The Gay Health Network (GHN) has welcomed the National Drug Strategy 2017 – 2025 as it is the first such strategy in Ireland to identify the need for the information and prevention strategies specifically targeted towards the LGBT+ community.
We must ensure that all our efforts are person-centred and health-led
The strategy makes reference to chemsex, which GHN lauds in a press statement in the hopes of a “widening of resource provision” for services which would help to deal with “sexual, mental and addiction health.”
Yesterday, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Minister for Health Simon Harris and Minister of State Catherine Byrne were among those at the announcement of the new National Drug Strategy.
— Leo Varadkar (@campaignforleo) July 17, 2017
“Ireland has a problem with substance misuse. Rates of drug use in Ireland have risen significantly over the past decade,” Varadkar said.
Harris spoke of the need to reduce harm with a quarter of Irish adults having tried “an illegal drug at least once”.
“If we are to reduce the dreadful harm caused [by alcohol and drug abuse] and support recovery, then we must ensure that all our efforts are person-centred and health-led. We must ensure that this ambitious new strategy is about action and delivery.”
GHN praised this person-centred approach in a statement today.
“The Gay Health Network (GHN) welcomes the National Drug Strategy, the first of its kind to specifically mention the need for targeted harm-reduction, education and prevention measures that are tailored towards the LGBTI community,” the GHN statement reads.
“GHN particularly welcomes the commitment to improve the capacity of services to accommodate the needs of drug users from specific communities, of which LGBTI people are included.
“The strategy includes an action point for the need to provide addiction supports in non-traditional settings with particular reference to chemsex. GHN hopes this signals a widening of resource provision for services attempting to bridge the gap between sexual, mental and addiction health.”
Decriminalisation of Drug Possession
Varadkar indicated that an expert group would examine the possibility of decriminalising the possession of small quantities of drugs.
Such a change could prove a powerful step towards addressing addiction and substance abuse as a public health, not a criminal justice, matter.
In Portugal, where decriminalisation of possession has been implemented since 2001, there has been some evidence that the number of people seeking treatment for drug use has increased while illegal drug use has declined.
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