Thoughts on December 31, 2021

On retiring, and after 45 years in varied roles relating to community, drugs and alcohol,including: 

  • Catholic Youth Council — Ballyfermot Playground (mid 70s)
  • Eastern Health Board — South Inner City (80s)
  • Ana Liffey Drug Project (early 90s)
  • Trinity College — Children’s Research Centre (late 90s); Addiction Research Centre (00s)
  • DLR-Drug and Alcohol Task Force (10s)
  • Trinity College — MLitt (Community & Drugs) (1993); PhD (Alcohol Policy) (2009), and 
  • Miscellaneous research, teaching and voluntary roles  (throughout) 

I was asked what I learned? I have concluded the following:

  1. If recreational drug use is an issue of concern for public health, then the first priority needs to be ALCOHOL, as its burden of disease - both national and global -  is a MULTIPLE that of other drugs that are taken for recreational purposes.
  2. If there is a political consensus to end drug-related criminality, and to overcome its enslavement of young people, and the marginalization of their families, neighbours and communities, then political leaders — through both legislation and global agreements — need to end PROHIBITION, thereby dismantling criminal empires, and their corrupting of business, banking and society.
  3. If recreational drugs, including alcohol, are to be effectively managed to the benefit of both individuals and society, then their production, distribution, storage, marketing and sale need to be all managed, nationally, within a single REGULATORY and ENFORCEMENT statutory authority, and internationally through trade and other agreements.
  4. If government and other funding agencies wish to prevent and mitigate the HARMS TO OTHERS arising from the misuse of alcohol and drugs then they need to invest substantially into COMMUNITY SERVICES for children, families and young people and to support and resource INDEPENDENT COMMUNITY BODIES to develop, manage and provide these services.
  5. If the MANAGEMENT and TREATMENT of addiction and drug/alcohol-related health and personal harms is to be adequately supported through public health funds and agencies, then the focus should be only on those INTERVENTIONS - such as drug substitution therapies, harm reduction, motivational enhancement, community reinforcement, systemic (family), and cognitive behaviour therapies - that have a proven evidential base, with documented outcomes, and avoid those that are based exclusively on ideology, faith, personal testimony and wishful-thinking.

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Barry Cullen © 2018 | | Banner photo -  The Harm Done