Parents Action Support Group Northern Ireland: Public Statement
Parents Action Support Group NI are concerned by the increase in drug-related deaths and the rise in attendance at emergency departments for self harm in the region. Like many community groups, we are alarmed by the widespread access to illicit and prescription drugs in our communities. We recognise that whilst important, focusing efforts solely on tackling the supply of drugs does little to reduce the immediate harm that young people face from using drugs.
We understand that some young people will experiment with alcohol and other drugs without much information about what they are taking, the effects substances may have and how they will react when used alongside other drugs. The current lack of targeted and appropriate harm reduction information and advice for young people who use drugs in Northern Ireland puts them at increased risk of harm.
Drug-related deaths of young people in Northern Ireland can be largely prevented by better services and campaigns which provide honest and appropriate harm reduction education and advice about drugs, rather than relying on ‘just saying no’ or abstinence based education.
We call on the Northern Ireland Assembly and the newly appointed Minister for Health to address the issue of drugs as a matter of urgency, we call for the urgent need for better mainstream harm reduction services to reduce the immediate risk of drug-related harm in our communities.
We are gravely concerned that drug and mental health services are oversubscribed, under funded and not appropriately equipped to deliver their duty of care, with urgent help not always available to those in crisis and the most vulnerable. We demand that current services are given the resources they need to meet the needs of the public and to fulfil our right to the highest attainable standard of health.
Parents Action Support Group will be co-organising an event for the Support. Don’t Punish Global Day of Action in June to highlight the need for better harm reduction services in Northern Ireland.