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Shifting drug strategies in Ireland and the UK

On 2 November, LSE IDEAS will host a high-level policy planning workshop which will focus on changing drug strategies in Ireland and the United Kingdom, with a keynote speech by current Irish Minister with responsibility for the National Drugs Strategy, Aodhán O’Ríordáin.

aodhanoriordain1The minister (pictured right) has been clear in his desire to implement evidence based, progressive drug policy in Ireland. He has spoken openly of his support for Medically Supervised Injecting Centres and has started a dialogue on decriminalisation in Ireland. He will speak on how and why Ireland is emerging as a global leader in public health oriented drug policies. 

Meanwhile, the UK has been reluctant to integrate new public health models, such as Medically Supervised Injecting Centres and Heroin Assisted Treatment into its national response to drugs. This is despite a growing body of evidence around their efficacy in minimising the impact and costs of drug use in society, including preventing HIV transmission, overdose deaths, crime and other social harm. 

Dr John Collins, coordinator of LSE's International Drug Policy Project, gave his observations on the development of Medically Supervised Injecting Centres in Ireland, saying: "The evidence internationally supports a radical change in how we deal with drugs. There is no doubt that if states are to provide solutions based on that evidence, punitive criminal justice approaches need to be abandoned in favour of funding health-based policy measures. Supervised injecting facilities are in line with this approach, and have been shown to be cost-effective in other jurisdictions."

The second part of the LSE IDEAS session will see eminent Professors John Strang, of Kings College London, and Virginia Berridge, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, lead discussions on the shifting drug policy debate in the UK and examine ways to make drug policies more effective in terms of both public health outcomes and implementation costs.

The event is invitation only but will be recorded and made available online. For more information, contact Dr John Collins, LSE IDEAS, at j.collins@lse.ac.uk  

More on LSE IDEAS' International Drug Policy Project here

22 September 2015