Tackling alcohol and drug misuse

Wednesday, 10 February 2010 – Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement


Health Minister, Michael McGimpsey today reaffirmed his commitment to tackling and preventing alcohol and drug misuse, and suicide and self-harm.

Speaking at a seminar in Newtownabbey, the Minister acknowledged the complex relationship between alcohol and drug misuse and suicide and self harm.

Mr McGimpsey said: “Although the relationship between alcohol and drug misuse and suicide and self-harm is complex, what is clear is that the two issues are linked and it therefore provides us with an opportunity to effectively intervene to protect our vulnerable individuals, families and communities.”

During his key note address Minister McGimpsey gave his commitment to continuing to place both reducing alcohol and drug misuse and suicide and self-harm as key priorities for this Department.

He said: “In addition, I have also asked the Public Health Agency to give consideration to taking forward a One-Stop-Shop project for young people, that can provide information, advice, support and signposting to those young people (and their families) affected by substance misuse. This will also address related issues such as suicide and self-harm.

“Furthermore, the ‘Card Before You Leave’ scheme, which I launched on 13 January, will ensure that people who self harm when drunk and then present to A&E departments receive appropriate followed up support and care.”

The seminar, Drugs, Alcohol, Suicide and Self-Harm – Cause or Effect?, aimed to increase awareness of the links and risks between drugs, alcohol, suicide and self-harm with local groups, agencies and sectors as well as increasing awareness locally of the community-based support available and models of good practice for these issues.

Dr Eddie Rooney, Chief Executive of the Public Health Agency, said:

“The Public Health Agency is the lead partner for a range of local action and initiatives being progressed to help improve mental health and reduce the number of deaths through drug misuse and suicide. Today’s seminar was organised to raise awareness of the links, and associated risks, between drugs, alcohol, suicide and self harm, and to highlight the community based support available to those who need it most. It is heartening to see that close links are being forged across a wide range of sectors, as demonstrated by the work being taken forward by partner organisations to tackle this issue and, by doing so, reduce local health inequalities.”

Further information

Media queries to for DHSSPS should be directed to the DHSSPS Press Office on 028 9052 2841, or out of hours contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715440 and your call will be returned.

Notes to the editor

• Overall action to address the harm related to alcohol and drug misuse in Northern Ireland, is taken forward through the DHSSPS’s New Strategic Direction for Alcohol and Drugs which is available at: http://www.dhsspsni.gov.uk/nsdad-finalversion-may06.pdf

• Overall action to address the harm related to suicide and self-harm in Northern Ireland, is taken forward through the DHSSPS’s Protect Life – A Shared Vision which is available at: http://www.dhsspsni.gov.uk/phnisuicidepreventionstrategy_action_plan-3.pdf

• The Seminar entitled “Drugs, Alcohol, Suicide and Self-Harm – Cause or Effect?” took place on Wednesday 10 February 2010 at The Linen Suite, New Mossley Mill, Newtownabbey Borough Council, Newtownabbey.

• The seminar was attended NDACT partners, Promoting Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Steering Group partners, IfH/HAZ partners, service providers, Primary & Secondary Care, HSC colleagues, local government and the Voluntary & Community Sector.