Drugs Policy Unit

National Drugs Strategy
Oversight Forum on Drugs
Contact this Unit
Useful Links


The overall objective of the Drugs Policy Unit is to oversee implementation of the National Drugs Strategy to tackle the harm caused to individuals, families and communities by problem drug use and alcohol use in Ireland through the five pillars of supply reduction, prevention, treatment, rehabilitation & research.


  • Coordinate the effective implementation of the National Drugs Strategy 2009-2016:
    • Interaction with Statutory, Voluntary & Community Sectors
    • Periodic reports prepared and circulated on progress on the implementation of the Actions of the Strategy,
    • Quarterly meetings of the Oversight Forum on Drugs (OFD)
    • Reports to the Cabinet Committee on Social Policy as appropriate
  • Ensure a coordinated approach to Ireland’s international role and responsibilities in regard to illegal drugs e.g. –
    • British Irish Council (BIC) Sectoral Group on Drugs
    • EU - Horizontal Working Party on Drugs, also known as the Horizontal Drugs Group (HDG) and the European Monitoring Centre on Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA)
    • United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime - Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND)
  • Encourage the implementation of the recommendations of the Report of the Working Group on Rehabilitation (2007) (PDF 2.38Mb) and bring greater focus generally on moving drug users towards recovery
  • Co-ordinate an effective response to emerging drug trends (on the lines of the response to new psychoactive substances)

National Drugs Strategy

The National Drugs Strategy is a cross cutting area of public policy and service delivery, which is based on a coordinated approach across many Government Departments and Agencies in conjunction with the Community and Voluntary Sector.

The current Strategy can be found through this link - National Drugs Strategy (2009 - 2016) (PDF 2.55Mb). It contains 63 actions to be implemented across the full range of Departments and agencies involved in delivering drugs policy to ensure that the aims and objectives are met. While the actions are included in the full Strategy document above, they were also published in a separate short document – Actions of the National Drugs Strategy 2009-2016 (PDF 511Kb).

The implementation of the National Drugs Strategy (NDS) is being pursued across a range of Departments and agencies and solid progress is being achieved. A progress report is compiled based on the implementation of the actions on a yearly basis. The current progress report available is - http://www.dohc.ie/publications/pdf/NDS2009-2016_2012PR.pdf

At the national level the Oversight Forum on Drugs (OFD), chaired by Minister of State Alex White, meets on a quarterly basis to examine the progress being made and to address any operational difficulties and blockages.

At the local/regional level, Drugs Task Forces prepare and implement action plans that identify existing and emerging gaps in services in relation to the five pillars of the National Drugs Strategy. This work in turn is overseen by the Drugs Advisory Group. For further information on the Drugs Task Forces and the Drugs Advisory Group please follow the link to the Drugs Programmes Unit - www.dohc.ie/about_us/divisions/drugs_programmes

National Drugs Strategy Publications:

Oversight Forum on Drugs (OFD)

The primary role of the Oversight Forum on Drugs (OFD) is the on-going high level monitoring and examination of progress across the Strategy and to address any operational difficulties and blockages that may arise. In accordance with the provisions in the National Drugs Strategy, Mr. Alex White T.D. Minister of State for Primary Care (with responsibility for the National Drugs Strategy) is chair of the OFD. The OFD has representatives from various statutory departments and agencies involved in the implementation of the NDS as well as community and voluntary sectors.

The OFD’s terms of reference are:

  • To examine the progress of the NDS 2009-2016 across the five pillars of supply reduction, prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and research in the context of the aims, priorities, actions and key performance indicators set out therein;
  • To address operational difficulties and blockages in implementing the NDS and agree on appropriate ways forward to overcome these difficulties;
  • To monitor progress on associated mainline services with a view to influencing outcomes;
  • To provide any reports on existing actions and details/rationale of future plans sought by the Minister of State, as chairperson of the Forum;
  • To consider developments in drugs policies, and in dealing with problem drug use generally, at EU and international level; and
  • To discuss and agree, as far as possible, on the approach to drugs issues at the Cabinet Committee on Social Policy.

Contact this Unit

Principal Officer Susan Scally
Assistant Principal Officers Dairearca Ní Néill
Brendan Ryan


  • Telephone: 01 - 635 4000
  • Email: dpu@health.gov.ie

Useful Links

www.drugs.ie HSE funded website giving information on drugs and alcohol

www.drugsandalcohol.ie The National Documentation Centre on Drug Use is a repository of Irish drug-related research

www.nacd.ie The National Advisory Committee on Drugs (NACD) was established 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. Their website contains access to their research and publications.

Section 15, Freedom of Information Act

Agencies/Service Providers/Working Groups: National Advisory Committee on Drugs & Alcohol (NACDA), Oversight Forum on Drugs (OFD) and International Drugs Issues Group (IDIG)

Legislation: N/A

Classes of Records held: Files on Policy Issues, Administrative records in relation to the areas of work described above

Significant Systems None.

Personal Information Holdings Representations sent in by, or on behalf of, individuals to the Minister may contain personal information

Disclosees Relevant staff in the Department and the HSE as appropriate

Notes: N/A