Press Release

Launch of the 2011 Annual Report of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction “The State of the Drugs Problem in Europe”

Róisín Shortall, Minister of State at the Department of Health, today (Tuesday, 15th November 2011) welcomed the publication of the EMCDDA Annual Report for 2011 which deals with the state of the drugs problem in Europe.

The Minister noted that, overall the report indicates that drug use is relatively stable across Europe. “While this is also broadly reflected in the Irish figures, the EMCDDA note that we have “adopted imaginative responses” in addressing the problem of new psychoactive substances and have had greater impact in dealing with this aspect of drug use”. The report acknowledges the rapid legislative responses in Ireland and Poland in dealing with this issue.

“The impact we have made on the psychoactive substances problem through regulations under the Misuse of Drugs Acts and through the provisions of the Criminal Justice (Psychoactive Substances) has been significant. The number of headshops has dropped from 102 to 12 and An Garda Síochána confirm that no psychoactive substances are being sold in the remaining outlets”. “However, we are not resting on our laurels”, said the Minister, adding that “on 1st November last the Government approved an Order declaring a further range of psychoactive substances to be controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Acts”.

The report is a useful barometer of drug use across Europe and it allows us in Ireland to assess our progress against other countries and to learn from successful initiatives elsewhere. At the same time, it is important to bear in mind that the EMCDDA can only compare the latest available information from the various countries and that it takes some time to do this. Thus the report is historic rather than current and much of the Irish content is based on the 2006/2007 Drugs Prevalence Survey. “Next week I will launch the Drugs Prevalence Survey for 2010/2011 and this will give an up-dated view of drug use in Ireland” said the Minister.

As is their practice, along with their Annual Report, the EMCDDA launched 2 “Selected Issues Reports” on “Guidelines for the Treatment of Drug Dependence” and Mortality Related to Drug Use”. Ireland is among the European countries that are well advanced in the provision of drugs treatment and in the identification and use of best practice in this area. On drug mortality, Ireland reports one of the highest rates. However, it is acknowledged that the figures from Ireland (taken from the Health Research Board’s National Drugs-Related Deaths Index) are extremely accurate due to the excellent system of compilation – something that is not the case in many of the countries across Europe.

In conclusion, Minister Shortall welcomed the cooperation at European level demonstrated through the report and said that a European and global perspective was necessary to effectively deal with drugs issues.

EMCDDA Report “The State of the Drugs Problem in Europe”