National Advisory Committee on Drugs and Alcohol

The NACDA was established in response to the drug problem to assist in our continued need to improve our knowledge and understanding of problem drug use.

The goal of the NACDA is to advise the Government on problem drug use in Ireland in relation to prevalence, prevention consequences and treatment based on our analysis and interpretation of research findings.

New report highlights the untapped potential family support services

12th November 2004

Thursday, 11th November 2004 – Only one fifth of Family Support Services (FSS) find that drug problems are a focus of their work, according to a report1. launched today [Friday, 12 November] by Mr Noel Ahern, TD, Minister of State for the National Drugs Strategy at the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. The report, commissioned by the National Advisory Committee on Drugs (NACD), examines the role of Family Support Services in responding to and preventing drug problems.

Family Support Services generally aim to support families and provide a range of services including counselling, guidance, parenting support, advice, some youth work and community development.

“The importance of the family in Irish society is clear to all and therefore, I am particularly pleased to welcome this report. Strong families play a crucial role in the development of children and provide them with skills for life. Accordingly, if we are to increase drug prevention we have to address the issue of supporting families, particularly those at risk. In this context, I believe that this is the appropriate time to broaden awareness and hopefully bring about improvements in services to families,” Minister Ahern said.

The report, entitled “The Role of Family Support Services in Drug Prevention”, included a survey of 461 FSS providers. 81% of the services that responded are located in disadvantaged areas with 50% located in a catchment area of a local drugs task force. Services offered to clients varied according to whether they had a major, minor or no focus on drugs in their service activity. Key findings from the survey include:

  • Over half (57%) of the respondents agree that their services make a positive contribution to drug prevention.
  • Yet, the majority of services, 93%, referred people who presented with drug problems on to another service.
  • Alcohol misuse was most commonly reported by services, whilst in larger urban areas prescribed drug misuse and illegal drug misuse was more commonly reported.
  • Family relationships were impacted by drug use which the research showed contributed to problems between parents (61%), with parents (61%) and to parenting difficulties (59%).

The findings show that all services experience some degree of insecurity in dealing with families with drug problems. This insecurity has developed due to a lack of clarity in their role to provide a service to families with drug problems; lack of skills to work successfully with these families and lack of support within the organisation to deliver a service to these families.

Dr Mary Ellen Mc Cann, Vice-Chairperson of NACD said, “It is clear that prevention efforts, both formal and informal, take place in many different settings within the broader community, within schools and primarily within the home. What is interesting about this report is that Family Support Services can, often without realising it, play a role in strengthening families and their individual members in their responses to the drugs phenomenon. From a client’s perspective, active family support provides them with emotional support, a sense of hope and practical supports such as information and advocacy.”

The NACD has made the following recommendations to increase the capacity of FSS to respond to and prevent drug problems:

  • The capacity of services to respond should be increased through the provision of an appropriate level of resources/funding together with appropriate training for staff in services.
  • Interagency links and networks should be strengthened by building knowledge of local community issues and attitudes, improving communications and increasing awareness of services and activities.
  • Relevant monitoring and evaluation tools to track the impact of service activities on families with regard to drug prevention should be developed.

For further information, contact: Jane O’Dwyer (086 6491408) / Pat Montague (087 2549123) at Montague Communications, Tel. 01 8377960 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


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