Responding to Community Drugs Problems
The responses we develop to tackle community drugs problems must be holistic, integrated and partnership based. They need to be community based, involve the people most affected by the problem in finding solutions that work for their communities, and they need to be adequately resourced.
Community responses are not just about the front line services that provide innovative and wide ranging services to drug users. If we understand that community drugs problems develop because of an array of co-existing factors then the responses to these problems must also work to strengthen community resources and cohesion. It is imperative that the problems in local areas are responded to by the involvement of those most affected - drug users, their families and their communities.
The responses developed in Ireland following the 1996 Rabbitte Report, were recognised as being, innovative, imaginative and even unique on a global level and included:
- The appointment of a Fulltime Minister to take responsibility for the National Drug Strategy,
- The establishment of a cross-sectoral team including community representatives to oversee the Drugs Strategy nationally.
- The setting up of Local Drug Task Forces in areas of most need,
Work collectively to tackle local problems
The vision that saw the establishment of Local Drug Task Forces (LDTF's) in 1997 must be built on
..."the LDTF's were set up to ensure a fully integrated response to the drug problem in the worst hit areas which takes account of specific needs of those areas. Of equal importance, the Task Force process allows local communities - the people most affected by the problem - to work with the state agencies and voluntary organisations in designing and delivering that response" (Introduction to LDTF handbook) .