Government policy is premised on the recognition that drug misuse is a complex problem, requiring a multidisciplinary response across a range of government agencies, non-governmental organisations, professionals and communities. The National Drugs Strategy 2001-2008 (PDF, 866 KB), launched in May 2001, is the primary framework for bringing together all those involved in drug misuse policy in Ireland in addressing the problem in a comprehensive and integrated manner. The Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs has responsibility for co-ordinating the implementation of the strategy.
The overall strategic objective for the National Drugs Strategy 2001-2008 is to significantly reduce the harm caused to individuals and society by the misuse of drugs through a concerted focus on the four 'pillars' of a) supply reduction, b) prevention, c) treatment and d) research. A series of objectives, performance indicators and specific actions have been identified under each of these four pillars. Implementation of the National Drugs Strategy and progress towards the fulfilment of its objectives is assessed through progress reports, reviews and advancement along the 'Critical Implementation Path'.
In 1997, Local Drugs Task Forces (LDTFs), comprising a partnership between the statutory, voluntary and community sectors, were established in the areas considered to be experiencing the worst levels of opiate misuse- Ballyfermot, Ballymun, Blanchardstown, the Canal Communities, Clondalkin, Dublin North Inner City; Dublin South Inner City, Dublin 12, Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown, Finglas-Cabra, Cork City, North East Dublin and Tallaght. Bray was added as an LDTF area in 2000, increasing the total number of LDTFs to fourteen.
The 2001, National Drugs Strategy expanded the LDTF model to cover the entire country by providing for the setting-up of Regional Drugs Task Forces (RDTFs), based in each of the ten Regional Health Board areas. The functions of LDTFs and RDTFs are very similar. Each is charged with bringing together all the State agencies involved in the field of drug misuse, along with the voluntary and community sectors, in co-ordinating an integrated approach to tackling the drugs problem in their region/local area and addressing gaps in service provision. They are required to develop action plans, which are then submitted to the National Drugs Strategy Team for approval and funding.
In addition to the local bodies, the National Drugs Strategy 2001-2008 set out the terms of reference for a National Drugs Strategy Team (NDST). This is a cross-departmental body comprised of representatives from government departments and agencies involved in the drugs field, as well as one each from the community and voluntary sectors. The NDST's purpose is to oversee the work of the Local and Regional Drugs Task Forces and to address and make recommendations on issues arising. The NDST seeks to ensure effective co-ordination between Government Departments, State Agencies and the community and voluntary sectors in order to assist in the delivery of the local and regional task force plans.
Another major programme administered by the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs concerning the prevention of drug misuse is the Young Peoples Facilities and Services Fund (YPFSF). Established in 1998, the YPFSF aims to divert young people away from possible drugs misuse by developing sporting and other recreational facilities in a non-threatening and constructive environment. It operates in the 14 LDTF areas and in four other urban areas (Limerick, Waterford, Carlow and Galway). The YPFSF is funded by the National Development Plan and the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs chairs the National Assessment Committee for the Fund.