Northwest Regional Drug and Alcohol Task Force in conjunction with the HSE has launched an information booklet for gyms and sports clubs to provide information for all those seeking to put on muscle mass safely whilst working out.

The booklet and You Tube video were developed as a collaboration between BMS Gym and the NWRDATF Training and Education Subgroup. The information has an important message around the use of Performance Enhancing Drugs and how to avoid the use of steroids when seeking to build muscle.

The booklet and information focuses on the SMART method of Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time Bound goals to gain the healthy way to working out.

Deputy Frank Feighan, T.D., launched the booklet and You Tube video at BMS Gym in Bundoran on Saturday June 15th.

Donna McGee, Addiction Services Lead said “This booklet and video is intended to be used as an information piece for clubs and schools in the future with additional training available on request from the NWRDATF Education & Training Co-ordinator. This training can be tailored to suit individual groups.”

Task Forces were set up under the National Drug Strategy 2001-2008 to provide a response to illicit drug use and underage drinking problems. Task Forces have representatives from government agencies, local authorities, community and voluntary groups and its primary role is to co-ordinate responses to local needs.

NWRDATF was set up in 2003 and covers Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim and North-West Cavan.

The overall objective is to significantly reduce the harm caused to individuals and society by the misuse of drug through concerted focus on supply reduction, prevention, treatment and research.

Please contact the Northwest Regional Drug and Alcohol Task Force on 071 9194556 if you want to get further booklets for your sports clubs or gym.


The Prevention and Education Sub Group of the Task Force were asked to look into the Lived Experience of Service Users who have a disability or an impairment. The Disabled Persons Group within the Task Force are represented by Peter Kearns who sits on the Sub Group and the main Task Force.

The NWRDATF were asked to seek funding for a research piece around this theme and a series of workshops were devised with the help of Sligo ATU at St Angela’s College and the Independent Living Movement Ireland. After consultation with St Angela’s College, the Task Force members and projects where invited to a half day workshop looking at Disability and Language.

Following on from this workshop, a second day was organised to ask Service Users to come along and have an open discussion around their use of pain medications and how they feel about accessing services in the region. From this workshop it was clear that those attending did not have much knowledge around the Regional Drug and Alcohol Task Force or its funded projects. There was also a clear lack of understanding around the day to day challenges of engaging with services and knowledge of micro dosing and the wider use of Over the Counter and non- prescription drugs.

It was therefore agreed to run a third and final workshop with service users to do an Education and Prevention piece in relation to Harms and Effects of drugs including micro dosing. It would also include a piece on NWRDATF funded services and Addiction Supports in the region.

From these workshops a questionnaire was devised for those in attendance around their knowledge of the Task Force and how they access front line HSE and Community Outreach Drug and Alcohol Services.

The Independent Living Movement Ireland and the Disabled Persons Organisation in conjunction with the HSE are now in a process of carrying out research to identify the lived experience of prescribed medication for disabled people in Sligo Leitrim and Donegal. The NWRDATF and HSE are interested in engaging with disabled people with a particular focus on their lived experience and engagement with their services and how it might be made easier to access if they ever needed the service.  This research will be available in September 2024 and will be launched through the Prevention and Education Sub Group. It is hoped that the recommendations from this group will provide an insight into improving services for those accessing both Community and HSE services within the Region.


‘What’s the Panic with Vaping?’ was commissioned by Foróige Sligo, in partnership with the North West Regional Drug and Alcohol Task Force (NWRDATF) and Mayo, Sligo and Leitrim ETB (MSLETB). The report was published in October 2023.

Through its drugs education and prevention work Foróige had noted increased reporting of vaping (i.e. use of e-cigarettes) as a prevalent issue among children and young people, through school principals and others.

The main purpose of the research was to understand the impact that vaping products have on children and young people in Ireland through listening to their direct experiences of vaping. ‘What’s the Panic with Vaping?’ examined the habits and perceptions of children and young people in relation to vaping within a range of contexts including youth groups, post primary schools and their own individual perspectives resulting in almost 1,000 stakeholders participating.

The stories shared by the children and young people in the report, showed that vaping is a complex and significant issue for our young population not just in Counties Sligo and Leitrim but also nationally. Hearing directly from young people is critical in developing local and national responses to vaping as highlighted by Josephine Lally, Community Works Social Researcher, who carried out the research. She commented that, “While many studies have amassed substantial medical and scientific evidence of the adverse impacts of vaping, the findings of this research present a stark reminder that listening to children and young people’s experiences needs to be included in future actions in addressing the issue of vaping.”

One of the key recommendations arising from the research was the need for consistent public health messaging and a direct ‘campaign’ to inform children, young people, their families, educators and youth support sectors about vaping to counteract the current dearth of clear information. Foróige, the North West Regional Drug and Alcohol Task Force and Sligo Leitrim Children & Young People’s Services Committee are currently leading out on a video project with young people from Sligo and Leitrim as a first step in the ‘campaign’ to provide relevant, factual information on vaping.


The NWRDATF have secured funding through the Healthy Ireland Leitrim Fund to launch a social media campaign ‘’Use Your Brain Not Your Fists’’ which will continue to highlight the devastating effects that a random act of violence can have on both the victim and the perpetrator. This all came about at an Annual General Meeting in 2017, where over one hundred young people from Leitrim Comhairle na nOg gathered and identified issues that were impacting young people from their community, in particular, instances of random acts of violence and the lack of education and awareness around the devastating effects it can have on the victim, the perpetrator and the community. In light of this, they identified that an educational video to support An Garda Síochána’s national campaign entitled “Use Your Brain Not Your Fists” should be produced to highlight the effects it can have on a young person’s life. They met with Rosie Dolan, whose son Andrew was killed in an unprovoked attack on a night out. The Grogan family also became involved as their son Shane was injured in an unprovoked assault in 2012. The Dolan and Grogan families in conjunction with Comhairle na nÓg Liatroma worked with Loch Bo Film Production to make our thought-provoking video. Please like and share with your networks.

The Healthy Ireland Fund is supported by the Department of Health and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.

#HealthyLeitirm #LeitrimPPN #LeitrimCountyCouncil


The North West Regional Drug and Alcohol Task Force has launched a short video as part of its pilot ‘Think Before You Buy’ campaign to highlight the role of recreational drug use in contributing to the fear and intimidation experienced by local communities, particularly drug debt intimidation.

‘Think Before You Buy’ is a joint campaign between NWRDATF, An Garda Síochána, and Safer Blanchardstown, using posters as well as the video to promote its message. The fear and intimidation taking place in local communities is a product of the link between the vast amounts of money generated by recreational drug use and criminal activity. This includes activities involved in supplying drugs, intimidation, extortion and crimes such as burglaries, handbag/phone snatchings etc. carried out to pay drug debts or to support continued drug use.

Recent CSO official data indicates that drug crime is split between possession for personal use (75%) and the supply side (25%) (this data is currently declared as being ‘under reservation’ due to issues surrounding the validity of Garda statistics). Speaking about the campaign, Detective Sergeant Niall Davey said “Such involvement in the drugs trade has a negative effect on every citizen’s quality of life either through fear of becoming a victim of through direct experience”.

According to Philip Jennings of Safer Blanchardstown “the real money is made by the drugs trade at the weekends when the casual or recreational user orders their small bit of hash or cocaine”. It’s this money that “attracts serious violence and intimidation, which is affecting communities’ right across the country” he said. “The ‘Think Before You Buy’ campaign is vital to draw attention to this link between recreational use of drugs, the vast amounts of money it generates, criminal activity and drug-debt intimidation.”

Sean O’Connor, Co-ordinator at the time, NWRDATF said “We want to encourage people to think about where the money they hand over for drugs goes, what it’s used for and the impact it may have on their local community.

Remember if you use drugs YOU are part of the problem! ‘Think Before You Buy’,

Some Facts:

Condoning recreational drug use trivialises and normalises drug taking as a harmless pursuit – this normalisation and trivialisation has to be questioned and challenged at all levels of society – most especially in the media.

The underlying cause of the drugs issue is recreational drug use – if you use recreational drugs, you cannot complain about drug dealers because they are supplying you with your €10 worth of drugs!

NACDA General Pop Study 2016 – 9% of adults living in Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland between 15 & 64 years of age tried drugs in last year.

Census 2011 – 4.8 Million in Republic of Ireland & 1.8 million lived in Northern Ireland (6.6m).

Those aged between 15 and 64 years numbered 3,022,869 in the Republic and in Northern Ireland 1,080,000 (4, 102,869m) for the whole of Ireland.

9% of 4, 102,869 = 369,258 engaged in recreational drug use each week…

€10pw = €3,692,580 per week X by 52 weeks = €192,014,269 per year.