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'Explaining Drugs and Alcohol' workshops now available to GAA clubs

In attendance during the lunch of the GAA Substance Use Workshop; explaining drugs and alcohol, are, from left, Finglas and Cabra Drug and Alcohol Task Force Substance Use Prevention and Education Lead Sarah Linnie, Minister for Public Health, Wellbeing and the National Drugs Strategy Hildegarde Naughton TD, Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael Larry McCarthy, Finglas and Cabra Drug and Alcohol Task Force Coordinator Michelle McNally, and Western Regional Drugs Task Force Coordinator Michéal Durcan, at Croke Park in Dublin.

In attendance during the lunch of the GAA Substance Use Workshop; explaining drugs and alcohol, are, from left, Finglas and Cabra Drug and Alcohol Task Force Substance Use Prevention and Education Lead Sarah Linnie, Minister for Public Health, Wellbeing and the National Drugs Strategy Hildegarde Naughton TD, Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael Larry McCarthy, Finglas and Cabra Drug and Alcohol Task Force Coordinator Michelle McNally, and Western Regional Drugs Task Force Coordinator Michéal Durcan, at Croke Park in Dublin.

On October 14, over 40 facilitators were trained to deliver Substance Use ‘Explaining Drugs and Alcohol’ workshops to GAA clubs.

The workshops were developed as a joint initiative between the GAA Community and Health Department and Regional and Local Drug & Alcohol Task Forces.

Those workshops will now be available to clubs on a phased basis, commencing with clubs who are part of the Irish Life Healthy Club Programme where trainers have been identified.

Clubs in areas where trainers are not available will be linked in with the appropriate Regional and Local Drug & Alcohol Task Force. It is a requirement for clubs to have a substance Use Policy in place prior to training take place. A template ‘Club Substance Use Policy’ is available HERE.

Clubs can complete an expression of interest in Substance Use ‘Explaining Drugs and Alcohol’ workshops HERE.

GAA Community and Health Manager, Colin Regan, said: “The GAA’s work in educating our members regarding substance use dates back to 2006 when we first partnered with the HSE to collaborate on this societal issue.

“At that time the focus was primarily on alcohol as Ireland ranked amongst the highest per capita consumers in the world. In recent years, the increased prevalence of illegal substances in communities across Ireland has reignited discussion across our clubs about the role of the GAA in educating our members on such matters.

“This ‘Explaining Drugs and Alcohol’ workshop content presents an evidence-based response to these concerns. The workshops highlight that engaging in sport is a proven protective factor against substance use while also noting the risk factors linked to team sport participation, such as increased exposure to binge-dinking habits.

“We believe that those who participate will find the content informative and engaging while presenting clear steps a club can take to ensure it is minimising the harm associated with substance use, and I would like to thanks our partners across the HSE’s drug and alcohol task forces for their work in creating the content and the tutors who have made themselves available for its delivery.”

Representative for the Regional Drug and Alcohol Task Forces, Michéal Durcan, said: “The Drug & Alcohol Task Forces (Regional and Local) across the country are delighted to be part of this partnership initiative with the Community & Health Department of the GAA. A lot of detailed planning has gone into this initiative to bring it to fruition, and we believe this educational workshop will help to build capacity within clubs to address any arising substance issues they may encounter."

The 'Explaining Drugs and Alcohol’ workshop was developed during 2022 and 2023 with a number of key objectives:

· Provide relevant information concerning the use of drugs and alcohol within Ireland. This would include areas of concern, such as the use of alcohol and cocaine.

· Provide appropriately targeted information concerning the use of IPEDs (Image and Performance Enhancing Drugs).

· Address the role the senior teams and coaching staff have in setting the agenda for healthy approaches.

· Encourage players, coaches, parents, guardians and others to adopt a positive approach towards making healthy choices and encouraging the same approach among under 18’s.

· Consider the role various factors may have in maintaining good mental health.

· Develop an understanding of a Harm Reduction approach and how it may be applied within a GAA club.

· Outline what further supports, and training programmes are available locally or online.

Clubs can complete an expression of interest in Substance Use ‘Explaining Drugs and Alcohol’ workshops HERE.

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