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"Addiction is an illness, whether we like it or not" - Drugs Minister wants your views

She also supports injection centres.

Catherine Byrne at this week's launch, with Dublin gaelic footballer, Philly McMahon and Dr Fiona Weldon, Clinical Psychologist.
Catherine Byrne at this week's launch, with Dublin gaelic footballer, Philly McMahon and Dr Fiona Weldon, Clinical Psychologist.
Image: Jason Clarke Photography

DRUGS MINISTER CATHERINE Byrne says that a new drugs strategy must treat drug addiction as an illness.

Minister of State for Communities and the National Drugs Strategy Catherine Byrne this week launched the public consultation of the new national drugs strategy, saying the document would be “essential”.

“It’s very important that we look at the whole system around taskforces and services and how they’re provided.

“But particularly the people who are caught up in drug taking and the communities who have to put up with the backlash.”

That backlash, Byrne says, comes from both having services in areas and the criminal aspects involved in drug taking.

“Going forward, we have to see how services can be provided better to educate, particularly young people, the dangers of taking any drug.”

Byrne says that she would like to hear from people about the new strategy, but adds that this is a plan for treating an illness.

Addiction is an illness, whether we like it or not and people label it other things, but it is an illness, it’s like any other addiction – an illness.

“We have to use the services we have to make sure people don’t use drugs and, if they do, to put them into the services that are there.

“Drugs are a reality in all of our communities. I come from a community that has had huge problems with drugs.”

Byrne says that Dublin’s much talked about injection centre is something she supports, with legislation due in autumn.

“We have to inform the community and make sure the service doesn’t impact on the community’s lives.

It’s not something that we can just announce and go straight into it, but hopefully by next year we can have the first facility.

“I think it’s very important.”

Public consultation on the new national drugs strategy is underway and will last until 18 October. People can provide their feedback in one of the following ways:

Online: National Drugs Strategy Consultation

Email: yourviews@drugsstrategy.ie

Write: Public Consultation Questionnaire or to National Drugs Strategy, PO Box 12778, Glenageary, Co Dublin

Phone: Lo-Call 1890 10 00 53

Read: “The word junkie is disgusting” – Dubs star Philly McMahon on drugs, his brother and being a role model

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