Firms to tender for first anti drugs advertising drive


THE Department of Health has asked five companies to tender for its first anti drugs advertising campaign.

The campaign will coincide with the introduction of an anti drugs information programme in primary schools and renewed efforts to increase distribution of the heroin substitute methadone in Dublin.

Advertising agencies have been asked to design a campaign for radio and television which stresses the dangers of drug abuse but adopts a tone which is "hopeful and not depressing", according to official sources. The Department wants the campaign to include "harm reduction - the measures people can take to help themselves or friends showing symptoms of drug abuse.

The campaign is aimed at people aged between 15 and 30 and their parents. Parents will be told how to recognise signs of drug taking by children and will be encouraged to broach the subject of drugs.

An anti-drug initiative in primary schools - aimed at the 4-12 year old group will also complement an existing anti drugs programme in the schools. The Department of Education hopes to have both in place throughout the school system by the end of the year. The primary schools programme includes particular stress on the dangers of heroin abuse which is to be taught to pupils in "disadvantaged areas".

The media campaign is to cost £250,000 while the budget for the schools information programme is more than £450,000. Both will be supported by a renewed effort to make the heroin substitute methadone available to heroin abusers, particularly in Dublin, which has up to 7,000 heroin addicts. The Eastern Health Board encountered protests from communities in Dublin when it sought to introduce new methadone distribution centres last year, with residents claiming the centres would increase crime and endanger children in their neighbourhoods.

Under a pilot project organised by the EHB about 30 general practitioners in the city are to treat methadone patients, and the EHB hopes the scheme can be extended if successful.

However, many GPs remain concerned about treating drug addicts, fearing other patients will be upset.