The State is to hire new midwives with special training in addiction services to help deal with the problem of babies being born with addictions.
The move is part of a new National Drugs Strategy which could see criminal charges abandoned for people caught with a small amount of drugs for personal use.
The plan also includes attempts to educate children about the dangers of addiction earlier in life.
Health minister Simon Harris says that it is a reliable way of preventing problems in future.
“Preventing the use of drugs and alcohol at a young age reduces the risk of a young person developing a drug problem later in life,” he said.
“This strategy aims to promote the use of evidence-based integrated education and prevention programmes that give young people the skills and the confidence to make healthier lifestyle choices.”
This was announced as the Taoiseach and the Minister for Health launched ‘Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery – a health led response to drug and alcohol use in Ireland 2017-2025’, which lays out the direction of government policy on drug and alcohol use until 2025.
Key actions of Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery include:
Introduction of a pilot supervised injecting facility in Dublin’s city centre;
Establishment of a Working Group to examine alternative approaches to the possession for personal use of small quantities of illegal drugs;
Funding for a programme to promote community awareness of alcohol-related harm;
A new targeted youth services scheme for young people at risk of substance misuse in socially and economically disadvantaged communities;
Expansion of drug and alcohol addiction services, including residential services;
Recruitment of 4 Clinical Nurse Specialists and 2 Young Persons Counsellors to complement HSE multi-disciplinary teams for under 18s;
Recruitment of 7 additional drug-liaison midwives to support pregnant women with alcohol dependency;
Establishment of a Working Group to explore ways of improving progression options for people exiting treatment, prison or community employment schemes, with a view to developing a new programme of supported care and employment.
The early Work Programme of the Standing Sub-Committee will focus on Drug-related Intimidation, pending the outcome of the respective evaluations of the Drug-related Intimidation Reporting Frameworks by An Garda Síochána and the National Family Support Network.