IMO launches major policy paper on Addiction and Dependency
Irish Medical Organisation

IMO launches major policy paper on Addiction and Dependency

Dr Matthew Sadlier, Dr Ray Walley and Dr Hugh Gallagher at the IMO position paper on Addiction and Dependency launch - 11th June 2015

IMO calls for immediate ban on sport sponsorship by alcohol industry + introduction of a Minimum Unit Price for alcohol

Calls for greater support for people suffering from gambling addiction

Launches major policy paper on Addiction and Dependency

Thursday 11th June 2015. The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has called for immediate action to ban sponsorship and promotion of sports by the alcohol industry and for the introduction of Minimum Unit Pricing for alcohol. Dr. Ray Walley, President of the IMO, said that it was time for urgent action; “we need to sever the link between alcohol and sports for once and for all. As a country we can’t continue to be indifferent to the damage being done to young people by the scourge of alcohol.”

The call was made today at the launch of a major policy paper on Addiction and Dependency by the IMO. The paper addresses a range of issues including prevention and treatment issues.

Speaking at the launch, Dr. Ray Walley, IMO President, said; “Addiction and dependency are some of the most challenging public health policy issues of recent times and IMO doctors are advocating for sensible and workable measures that should be examined by legislators and policy-makers to loosen the grip that substance abuse and addiction has placed on large tracts of our society.”

Dr Walley added that “IMO doctors have been a constant voice in advocacy raising awareness and calling for greater action on this issue through motions, scientific sessions, position papers and submissions.“

The IMO have outlined a number of recommendations in its position paper including:


- The implementation of the National Alcohol Strategy without delay and take immediate action to ban sponsorship and promotion of sports by the alcohol industry and to introduce Minimum Unit Pricing for alcohol products.

- The creation of a strategy for the development of treatment and rehabilitation services for alcohol and drug dependency.


The IMO urges the Government to restore all resources to State agencies charged with seizing and intercepting drugs shipments in an effort to reduce the volume of drugs on Irish streets, thereby affecting their availability and price in a manner that will reduce consumption. Stiff penalties are also required to deter the importation and sale of illegal drugs into Ireland. The IMO recommends that mandatory life sentences should be imposed on those found guilty of major drug trafficking crimes.

The IMO believes that regulatory controls to limit the exposure of young people to gambling should be instigated immediately, including those that limit the intensity or frequency of gambling service advertisements. Given the prevalence of gambling in Ireland, and the increased access that most young people and adults have to gambling through smartphones or other portable internet enabled devices Effective educational programmes are also required to raise awareness of problem gambling in the Social, Personal, and Health Education curricula.

The IMO be forwarding our recommendations to all relevant Ministers and calling on the Government to implement the wide range of measures laid out in our paper concluded Dr Walley.

Summary of Recommendations


Supply and Prevention

Alcohol
• Implement the National Alcohol Strategy without delay to take immediate action to ban sponsorship and promotion of sports by the alcohol industry, and to introduce Minimum Unit Pricing for alcohol products.


Substance Abuse

  • Restore funding and resources to State agencies in order to halt and reverse the sharp reduction in drugs seizures of recent years.
  • Impose mandatory life sentences for all those convicted of major drug trafficking crimes.
  • Strengthen funding and resources to support community organisations focused on young people or young adults that promote drug education and prevention programmes.
    Gambling
  • Fund research into the extent of problem gambling and its effects on individuals and their families in Ireland.
  • Introduce regulatory control measures that limit the frequency of advertisements for gambling services.
  • Develop educational programmes that raise awareness of the issue of problem gambling in the Social, Personal, and Health Education curricula.
    Substance Abuse and Addiction Services

The IMO is calling on the Government to urgently create a strategy for the development of treatment and rehabilitation services for alcohol and drug dependency to include the:

  • Establishment of acute alcohol and illicit drugs detoxification centres for those who wish to choose detoxification as part of their recovery;
  • Development of appropriate acute treatment facilities for those with alcohol and benzodiazepine dependency;
  • Full implementation of the Farrell Report (2010) to allow for the expansion of numbers of patients on the Opioid Treatment Protocol and thus increase access to treatment for heroin dependence throughout the country;
  • Pursuit of research that will assess the potential benefits and risks of utilising supervised injection sites as a means of reducing drug-related harm and bringing patients into contact with drug treatment services;
  • Development of specialist services in dual-diagnosis, comorbid substance dependency and mental health illness, with appropriate pathways of referral in and out of services and standardised protocols for care;
  • Appropriate training of all physicians in treatment of addiction and dual-diagnosis both as part of the core curriculum and continuing professional development; and
  • Provision of State funding for the treatment of gambling addiction.
    Reducing the Social Cost of Addiction
  • Introduce spent convictions legislation that will allow minor crimes to be removed from an individual’s criminal record, to better enable those convicted of minor possession offences to re-enter the workforce.
  • Develop an effective substance abuse and dependence intervention programme, incorporating a referral procedure, for people who have come to the attention of various State authorities, such as An Garda Síochána or officers of the Department of Social Protection.
  • Establish a cross departmental integrated approach to treatment and rehabilitation to ensure the education, housing, and social protection needs of patients and their families are met.
  • Provide financial support to Local and Regional Drugs Task Forces and social services to address child and family related drug problems.


Funding Prevention and Treatment

  • Ensure that contributions from the alcohol and gambling industries fund the treatment and rehabilitation of those who have developed clinical dependencies on their products.
  • Route proceeds acquired by the Criminal Assets Bureau relating to drug crime to investment in drug treatment programs.

The full position paper is available here 
 

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