BeLonG To Youth Services Welcomes National Drug Strategy Decriminalisation Working Group

BeLonG To Youth Services Welcomes National Drug Strategy Decriminalisation Working Group

Tuesday July 18th, 2017

“As Ireland’s only designated LGBT+ drugs service, we welcome the announcement of a working group on decriminalisation in the new National Drugs Strategy ‘Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery’, and the inclusion of the LGBT+ community as a high-risk group with specific health needs.

We know that our young people are taking drugs, and that level of drug and alcohol harm and misuse are much higher amongst LGBT+ young people. Our young people are twice as likely to abuse drugs and alcohol as a coping or escape mechanism because of the isolation, fear of rejection and bullying the face because of who they are.

At BeLonG To Youth Services, we support the decriminalisation of drugs for personal use, and believe that drug use should be treated as a health care issue  – not a criminal issue. From listening to our young people, we know that the narrative around drugs in Ireland needs to change. Instead of criminal sanctions in response to drug possession with devastating repercussions on career, travel and education prospects, we need to offer support and knowledge in line with harm reduction approaches. Since decriminalisation in 2001, Portugal has seen huge increases in the numbers of drug dependent people accessing treatment, a reduction in drug-related harms, and a decline in drug use among the most vulnerable populations – young people and problematic users. This model is possible for Ireland with the decriminalisation of drugs and a move towards a health-lead approach to drugs.

As identified in ‘Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery’, LGBT+ young people are a vulnerable group with specific health needs. Following the launch of yesterday’s strategy, we are hopeful that resources will be made available for young LGBT+ people to access targeted services such as the BeLonG To Drug and Alcohol Service. It is a priority that we reduce harm and educate our young people on how to stay safe and healthy in relation to drug use.”

Moninne Griffith, Executive Director, BeLonG To Youth Services

ENDS

Contact: For further information, please contact Sinead Keane, Communications Officer 087 7680389/ 01 670 6223.

Notes for Editor:

BeLonG To Youth Services is the national organisation supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT+) young people in Ireland. Since 2003, BeLonG To has worked with LGBT+ young people to create a world where they are equal, safe and valued in the diversity of their identities and experiences. The organisation also advocates and campaigns on behalf of young LGBT+ people, and offers a specialised LGBT+ youth service with a focus on mental and sexual health, alongside drug and alcohol outreach.