David Lane, the HSE's head of addiction services in Cork and Kerry, said some drug and alcohol awareness programmes aimed at young adults often come across as "box ticking exercises". He said more immersive programmes need to be embraced by schools and teachers.
It comes as a young woman, whose brother died of a drugs overdose three years ago, warned Ireland is losing the battle against illegal drugs. Nicole Ryan's brother Alex (18) died after taking a synthetic drug at a party in 2016.
Mr Lane said some schools are guilty of running ineffective drug awareness programmes. He called for a more widespread and consistent approach to SPHE (Social, Personal and Health Education), instead of one-off lectures and presentations to tackle the issue.
"The whole thing around bringing someone who is in recovery into a classroom and talking to them about their life story, that on its own is completely ineffective. We know that from research," Mr Lane told the Sunday Independent.
"SPHE and the full implementation of those types of programmes in schools has a better evidential base than a school for instance ticking a box and inviting someone in to talk about drugs.
"That's not how you run an effective programme. If you want to run effective programmes around schools, which will have the biggest reach in terms of catching a significant amount of younger people, then what you have to do is run SPHE in full for it to have its best effect in terms of having good outcomes for people who are at risk of getting into difficulties."
Source: Irish Independent, 12th August 2019