Drug & Alcohol Task Forces, both Local (14) and Regional (10), were developed to combat the threat from problem substance use throughout the country through the use of an area-based partnership approach between the statutory, voluntary & community sectors including public representatives. The structure is intended to facilitate the development of effective, targeted, local responses through the utilisation of the knowledge and experience of all sectors in designing and delivering those services and through facilitating the improved co-ordination of service provision. All are guided under the overall objectives of the National Drugs Strategy 2009-2016 which is to continue to tackle the harm caused to individuals and society by the misuse of drugs through a concerted focus on the five pillars of supply reduction, prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and research
Local Drug & Alcohol Task Forces were set up in Dublin and Cork City to ensure a fully integrated response to the drug problem in the worst hit areas, taking in to account the specific needs of those areas. Of equal importance, the establishment of Task Force process allowed local communities – the people most affected by the problem – to work with the State Agencies and Voluntary Organisations in designing and delivering that response.
Since their inception in 1997, the Task Forces have achieved a significant number of successes, not least in reducing the feelings of isolation and frustration previously experienced by many community and voluntary organisations working at the coalface of the drug problem. These organisations now feel that they are part of a co-ordinated and effective response to drug misuse in their areas.
In 1998 LTDFs prepared their first action plans which included a range of measures in relation to treatment, rehabilitation, education, prevention and curbing local supply. The focus of these plans was the development of Community Based Initiatives to link in with or add value to programmes and existing services already being delivered by statutory agencies in these areas.
It was because of the Initial Success of the LDTF that the Southern Regional Drug & Alcohol Taskforce came about but with a bigger strategic response.
These Initiatives are in response to areas of high need in the region and to work with people, families and communities to reduce the harm that is caused by substance misuse. The Community Based Drugs Projects are at the coal face of the issues in communities and generally take a targeted intervention based approach to working people who are misusing or at risk of misusing drugs and alcohol.