Substance Use Policy

Printable Version


The National Drugs Strategy interim 2009-2016 sets out a detailed programme of action to be implemented to combat the very serious problem of drug misuse in our society. The strategy, Action 20-21, (Appendix1) highlights the important contribution that schools can make in the area of education and prevention, and requires them to have substance use policies in place. The central objective of our school’s substance use policy is the welfare, care and protection of every young person in line with the Education Act, 1998 and the Education (Welfare) Act, 2000. The policy will address both education concerning alcohol, tobacco and drugs and the procedures for managing incidents relating to these substances.


Elphin Community College is committed to addressing the needs of the whole school in relation to drugs.

The policy has been drawn up and accepted by the Staff, Parents/Guardians, Board of

Management and Students. It is necessary that all involved work together to implement this policy. It is vital that parents/guardians actively work with the school to implement this policy to ensure their children’s health and safety.

In this policy “Drug” means any substance which changes the way the body functions, mentally, physically or emotionally.

The School recognises that drugs both legal and illegal are available in the local community and that the School, as part of that community, has an important role in terms of education, prevention, support and the handling of drug related incidents.


As stated in the School’s mission statement Elphin Community College aspires to provide an

environment which acknowledges educational achievement, enhances student self-confidence, promotes life skills and attitudes which will enable students to live fulfilling lives and so contribute to the betterment of society. We actively aspire to develop partnership between staff parents and the wider community. This is the ethos which guides this Policy.


  • The School does not accept the possession, use or supply of illegal drugs during school time (including break times) and on all school related activities by any member of the school community.
  • The School does not accept the possession, use or supply of alcohol or tobacco in the school or on school activities by any student.
  • The School does not accept the misuse of solvent based substances. Students may have prescribed or “over the counter” medicines for legitimate personal use only.
  • Students who have in their possession and take medical drugs in school long term must inform the school.
  • The School must be informed if a student has a medical condition and relevant teachers, e.g. games teacher must be informed also.
  • A student or teacher may not give another student any prescribed or “over the counter” medicine.
  • Chemicals in school laboratories will be held under lock and key. Students will handle and use such substances only under their teacher’s supervision.


The policy is focused in four key areas:

  1. Alcohol, Tobacco and Drug Education Programmes.
  2. Managing Drug Related Incidents.
  3. Training and Staff Development.
  4. Monitoring, Review and Evaluation.


  1. Alcohol, Tobacco and Drug Education Programmes.

The School is committed to providing an Alcohol, Tobacco and Drug Education Programme for all students which will be incorporated into the Social, Personal and Health Education Programme currently running in the school.

Our educational aims are:

  • To increase the self-esteem and confidence of our students.
  • To equip our students with personal and social skills.
  • To enable our students to make informed, healthy and responsible decisions.
  • To provide clear and age appropriate information on drugs.
  • To minimise the harm caused by drug abuse by offering supportive interventions.

These aims will be achieved by:

  1. All teachers involved in SPHE will be given the opportunity to avail of training in group facilitation skills and personal development.
  2. All school staff will be offered where practicable and relevant Drug Information and Drug

Awareness training.

  1. Outside speakers will be used where appropriate to supplement and reinforce the work done in class.
  2. Parents/Guardians will be consulted on the need for drug education and will be informed of what is happening in the school. Drug information and drug awareness sessions will be organised for parents.
  3. Managing Alcohol, Tobacco, Drug Related Incidents

We acknowledge that in all situations involving drugs, there needs to be a balance between the needs of the student, the needs of the school community, the reputation of the school and legal considerations.

Assessing a drug incident

If there is damage or suspected damage to the student/s, it is essential to

  • Seek medical advice immediately.
  • Inform school authorities and complete a drug incident report

If there is no damage to the student/s, it is important to:

  • Take time to listen and assess before responding.
  • Separate fact from rumour.
  • In situations of confirmed use or possession or supply all details must be recorded and acted upon.
  • Then complete the drug incident report.

Managing a drug incident

A limited number of people are involved in all suspected or confirmed drug incidents. People will be informed on a “need to know” basis. All written records will be held confidentially by the Principal or Deputy Principal. Parents/Guardians will be involved. They will be informed sensitively and support offered to them. In the case of illegal drugs the Principal or Deputy Principal will contact Gardaí – Juvenile Liaison Officer, and any drugs will be dealt with by Gardaí. In response to all incidents, pastoral support will be offered. If a student has a problem then referral will be recommended. Parents/Guardians, staff and other students involved in the incident will be offered support. Confidentiality is a complex issue. It is

important that the limits of confidentiality are discussed with students before any disclosure is made. The wellbeing and welfare of the student and teacher must be a primary focus.

The Principal or Deputy Principal will handle all media enquiries. They will not comment on

individual cases but will refer to the school policy and procedures in place to manage any drug related incident.

Disciplinary Procedures

Drug incidents are complex and in situations where the school rules regarding drugs are broken, sanctions and punishments will be implemented depending on the nature of the offence. These will be consistent with school rules (see the Code of Behaviour).

  1. Training & Development

We will provide where practicable:


The School will facilitate training for staff involved in the SPHE programmes.

All staff will be offered drug information and awareness training on an ongoing basis.

Specific training will be made available to key staff in relation to managing drug related incidents.

We will endeavour that First Aid training will be made available to all staff.

Parents/Guardians & Board of Management

The School will provide opportunities to attend drug workshops, information evenings and sessions on issues relating to drugs and these opportunities will be offered as part of the induction for parents/guardians of new pupils to the School.


The School will offer all its students drug education programmes within the context of their SPHE classes. TY students will study First Aid.

  1. Monitoring the Policy, Review and Evaluation

The Policy will be reviewed on a regular basis, or in the light of changing information, by the

present group in consultation with the wider school community.

These areas will be reviewed:

Drug Education Programmes

Managing Drug Related Incidents

Parent, Staff and Management Training


Staff, Parents/Guardians, Students and the Board of Management will be involved in the evaluation of this policy when it has been in place for one year. Again the three specified areas above will be evaluated. Any changes will be incorporated into the amended policy.

Dissemination of Policy

Copies of this policy will be distributed to all the school community. It will be available also from the Principal’s Office.

Copies will be given to all new staff and parents of new pupils as part of their induction to the

School. Students will be made aware of the policy within the context of the SPHE programme.