Open-Letter to Government

Help Not Harm
2 min readMay 16, 2016

As drugs impact the lives of more and more people in this country, we the undersigned are calling for a comprehensive drug policy to be at the front and centre of the new government. A lack of action will only lead to further preventable deaths and therefore we call for the retention of a Minister for Drugs Strategy.

Currently drugs are dealt with through the criminal justice system and what has been a legitimate attempt at reducing the supply of drugs, has unfortunately not worked. In many ways the current approach has not deterred drug use but it has deterred people from seeking help by stigmatising people who use drugs in the criminal justice system. With an average of one drug overdose every day in Ireland, we believe the topic should be dealt with in a holistic approach that includes public health, education, prevention and harm reduction in coordination with the authorities. We welcome in particular the commitment made in the new Programme of Government to implement a health-based approach rather than a criminal justice approach. Only under the supervision of a Minister can such reforms be effective.

82% of 3rd level students in Ireland have tried drugs in their lifetime. Despite more than forty-years of criminalising the user, drugs have never been more in demand, as cheap and widely available. It is clear that a pragmatic approach is required in order to reduce the harm to society. Saving lives and reducing the harms of drugs is the priority and we believe a designated Minister for Drugs Strategy can help.

Signed,

Help Not Harm

Citywide Drugs Crisis

HIV Ireland

Irish Needle Exchange Forum

Dublin North East Drugs and Alcohol Task Force

The Irish Association of Social Workers

Students for Sensible Drug Policy

BeLongTO

Youth RISE

Fr. Peter McVerry

Olaf Tyaransen, Contributing Editor of Hot Press Magazine

RADE Recovery through Art, Drama & Education

Clondalkin Tus Nua

South East Region, Family Support Network

St. Dominics Community Response Project Tallaght

Pavee Point Traveller & Roma Centre

North East Inner City Community Policing Forum

ADAPT “Addressing Drug & Alcohol Problems Together”

FAST Finglas Addiction Support Team

DAISH Project

Bray Travellers CDG

TRP Community Drugs and Alcohol Rehabilitation Services

Liberties Recycling Training and Development

Community Response

Addiction Response Crumlin (ARC)

NORML

The Psychedelic Society of Ireland

DCU Urban Artz

SWAM Youth Services

DCU Students for Sustainability in Human Lifestyles

ATD All Together in Dignity

End Poverty Day Ireland

CISTA Northern Ireland

People Before Profit

Students for Sensible Drug Policy UK

Inner City Organisations Network (ICON)

The Harmony Program

UISCE

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Help Not Harm

Help Not Harm is a campaign supporting a shift of drugs from criminal justice to public health to improve access to harm reduction, education and treatment.