The fifth goal of the short-term action plan for 2017-20, designed in accordance with the national drug strategy for 2017-25, ‘Reducing harm, supporting recovery: a health-led approach to drug and alcohol use in Ireland 2017-2025’, is ‘to develop sound and comprehensive evidence-informed policies and actions’. The key elements of this goal include measuring performance and assessing the structures that support the implementation of the strategy.
The Drugs Policy Unit (DPU), Department of Health, is responsible for analysing the implications of research findings for policy and designing initiatives to tackle the drug problem. The DPU provides the National Oversight Committee with advice on the commissioning of new research and the development of new data sources, considering current information and research deficits, as well as changing patterns of drug use and emerging trends. The Health Research Board (HRB) manages the commissioning of any research that the national committee deems necessary to address gaps in its knowledge.
The HRB National Drugs Library online repository contains more than 12 000 reports, articles, systematic reviews, accounts of parliamentary debates and other items. The library publishes factsheets based on data collected by the national focal point. The library also produces a series of rapid reviews in consultation with policymakers and stakeholders in the community and voluntary sectors.
Topics such as the misuse of drugs and supervised injecting facilities, medicinal cannabis, and decriminalisation have deserved special attention from public authorities and call for additional research.