Substance Use

Cashel Community School  Substance Abuse Policy


This policy applies to Cashel Community School which is a health promoting school and is committed to addressing the needs of the whole school in relation to drugs.

We believe that students, teachers, parents and the Board of Management need to work together and that co-operation is essential to the acceptance and implementation of this policy.

In drawing up this policy, representatives of all the partners in this community were consulted.

It is applicable to students, teachers, parents, the Board of Management and all visitors to the school.


Relationship to Cashel Community School’s Mission statement

Cashel Community School believes that education caters for diversity, embraces change, and promotes mutual respect and partnership through a broad range of learning opportunities thereby nurturing the development of responsible young people.

Within this remit the development of a responsible young person aims to bring the individual to the state of personal wholeness where she or he can identify with and be at peace with her or his own self.

Likewise catering for diversity aims to lead to a sense of community and solidarity among members of the human family.

Education flourishes in an environment which can lead to the creation of a school community catering for diversity in which the participants relate to each other in an obviously loving and respectful manner, whilst members of the school community are helped to achieve personal wholeness.

This philosophy underpins and informs all the work we do and is central to this policy document.

As such the substance abuse policy reflects the school ethos.


The Education Act (1998) provides that schools should promote the social and personal development of students and provide health education for them.


The Social Personal and Health Education curriculum, of which substance misuse prevention education is an integral part, is a mandatory subject on the primary curriculum and must be taught to all primary pupils from junior infants to sixth class (DES Circular 022/2010).


The National Drugs Strategy (interim) 2009-2016 requires every school to have a substance use policy in place.


Action 21 of the National Drugs Strategy (interim) 2009-2016 mandates the Department of Education and Skills to monitor the implementation of substance use policies in schools through the whole school evaluation process as operated by the Inspectorate. It is also mandated to ensure that best practice is disseminated to all schools.


The 2003 European School Survey Project on Alcohol and other Drugs (E.S.P.A.D.) report highlighted the seriousness of the problem among 16 year olds in Ireland, as compared to the other 34 E.S.P.A.D. countries surveyed.  Alcohol was identified as being the dominant drug of misuse in Ireland, with girls ranking higher than boys in terms of regular alcohol use. In terms of drug use in Ireland, there was a notable increase in lifetime use of any illicit drug between 1999 (32%) and 2003 (40%), up eight per cent.


The Position of Cashel Community School


Cashel Community School is a health promoting school and is committed to addressing the needs of the whole school in relation to drugs.

We believe that students, teachers, parents and the Board of Management need to work together and that co-operation is essential to the acceptance and implementation of this policy.

In drawing up this policy, representatives of all the partners in this community were consulted.


Definition of a Drug


For the purposes of this policy a drug is:


Substance/Drugs can be defined as all mood altering substances, both legal and illegal that cause changes in the way a person thinks, feels and acts. Substance misuse is the use of any drug, which can potentially lead to injury of the individual and/or society. For the purpose of this school’s policy this includes tea, coffee, tobacco, alcohol, solvents and illicit drugs such as, cocaine, ecstasy, heroin, LSD, magic mushrooms, cannabis, solvents, barbiturates, tranquillisers etc.


As well as the whole range of illegal substances this includes over the counter and prescribed medicines.

Goals and Objectives


Cashel Community School does not accept the possession, use or supply of drugs in the school, on school trips or in non-school time by any member of the school community.  The only exception is for legitimate medicinal use and the school has to be informed.

The substance use policy of Cashel Community School is intended to focus on four key areas: –

  • Alcohol, Tobacco and Drug Education Programmes
  • Managing Drug Related Incidents
  • Training and Staff Development
  • Monitoring, Review and Evaluation


Policy Content

  1. Education Programmes for Alcohol, Tobacco and Drug use.

Cashel Community School is committed to providing a drugs education programme for all its students. This will be introduced primarily through the Social Personal Health Education Programme (SPHE) with cross curricular links to the Home Economics, Science and Religious Education programmes. This in turn will be developed and delivered in the context of a supportive whole school environment.

The aims of our education programme are:

  • To enable our students to make informed, healthy and responsible choices
  • To provide honest and age-appropriate information on drugs
  • To minimise any harm which might be caused by involvement in a drug incident by offering supportive interventions
  • To increase the self-esteem and confidence of our students
  • To promote a healthy lifestyle amongst our student population by encouraging participation in sporting and extracurricular activities

These aims will be met through the following actions:

  • The teaching of SPHE, Religious Education and through crosses curricular links with other subjects such as Home Economics, Science etc.


Outside Speakers:

Outside speakers and agencies may be involved as appropriate to reinforce work done in the classroom


  • Procedures for Managing Alcohol, Tobacco, Drug Related or Substance Abuse 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 and the reputation of the school.

As with all situations, listening, separating fact from myth and support will be the school’s initial approach.

Disciplinary procedures will be called in if school rules are broken in regard to drugs related incidents. Procedures are in place and outlined below to handle specific drug incidents.

Incidents involving alcohol, tobacco and drug use might include:

  • Emergencies when the person may be unconscious
  • Intoxication/unusual behaviour
  • Suspicion/rumour of drug use, possession or dealing
  • Disclosure by another person
  • Failure to disclose knowledge of a drug incident to the appropriate authorities
  • Possession of a legal/illegal drug on the school premises or on a school related


  • Selling/supplying legal/illegal drugs
  • School grounds being used for drug activity
  • Drug paraphernalia found on school property
  • Misuse of aerosols, including spray deodorants
  • Possession of petrol, lighters, or any other solvent
  • Possession of steroids, stimulants, etc.


Assessing an Incident

  • The possession, use or supply of alcohol and illicit drugs as defined is viewed as unacceptable by all in the school community.
  • Where there is an immediate danger the Emergency Services should be contacted without hesitation and the principal/deputy principal should be informed.
  • Parents/Guardians should be informed as soon as possible
  • In all cases where there is no immediate danger to young person/s it is important to take time to assess the situation before responding and to complete a drug incident report form.


Recording Procedures

Staff will receive training so as to be aware of the signs of drug use.  In so far as possible staff is always alert to changes in behaviour.


In situations of confirmed possession/use/distribution, all details will be recorded and acted upon. A written recording procedure will be used to ensure that a fair process of challenging the student about behaviour of concern is in place.


Managing a drug incident

It is important that in all suspected or confirmed drug incidents that a limited number of people are involved in managing the incident. People will be informed on a “Need to Know” basis. The principal, deputy principal, guidance counsellor, year head and person/s directly involved in the case will be informed and all written documentation will be held confidentially by the Principal.



The principal or his delegate is the person responsible for all matters relation to the area of substance abuse. The principal may nominate the deputy principal or year head or other nominated staff to act on the principal’s behalf.


Parents and Guardians

Parents/Guardians will always be involved if there is a substance misuse incident in the school. In the case of tobacco the parents/guardians will be involved after a preliminary investigation. In all other cases involvement will be immediate. This will be handled in a sensitive manner and whenever possible support will be offered. In the first instance, this support will be offered by the Pastoral Care team.


Counselling and Pastoral Care Team


The pastoral care of all – students, parents/guardians and staff involved with a drug incident must be of primary concern. In response to all incidents pastoral support will be offered and in some cases referral to a substance misuse counsellor may be required.





It is agreed that the principal or a designated person will contact the Juvenile Liaison Officer (JLO) in the event of a confirmed incident involving illicit substances and any drugs found on the premises will be dealt with by the JLO.



The Media

A drug incident in a school can draw adverse media attention. The principal or his / her representative will act as spokesperson. No comment will be offered on individual cases but clarification where necessary will be given, for example: “The school has a policy in place to deal with any substance misuse related incidents and in all cases the appropriate support services will be provided or accessed”. The Board of Management may clarify the school’s position regarding an incident when the investigation has concluded and its findings have been viewed.


Disciplinary Procedures


Drug incidents are complex and in situations where the school rules regarding substance misuse are broken, the following sanctions and punishments may be implemented. Any student found smoking/drinking/using illicit substances or in possession of cigarettes/alcohol/illicit substances, will be dealt with under the school’s Code of Behaviour.

More serious sanctions, up to and including expulsion will be considered for repeated offences.

The school may ask that other agencies be involved once confirmation of an incident has taken place i.e. drug testing, counselling, Health Board, G.P.


Powers of search

In the interest of the general student body the school/centre retains the right to search any part of school/centre property if there is any reasonable cause to believe a substance in breach of this policy is present.

  • Search of a student’s locker.
  • Search of a student’s school bag.
  • An instruction to a student to empty his/her school bag or pockets or locker.

The following conditions will apply:

  • Any such search will be authorised by the principal/manager/deputy.
  • Consent and/or the presence of the parent/guardian should be sought where possible.
  • Any search will be undertaken in the presence of two members of staff.

Disposal of Illegal Substances

If an illegal drug is found it must be stored securely by staff while awaiting the Gardaí who will dispose of same. The substance should be handled as little as possible and no attempt should be made to taste or analyse the substance.

Two staff members should be present during any procedures involving handling illegal substances.


Administration of Medicines

An increasing number of students are being prescribed a range of medications during the school day. It is the parents/guardians responsibility to inform the school authorities and make the necessary arrangements for any administration of medicines. All asthma sufferers are expected to be independent inhaler users. This is stored in a secure place by management.


Emergency Response:

Drug taking can have dangerous consequences, it is therefore important to know what action to take in the event of an emergency.

  • Teachers should be prepared to deal with an emergency by calling the trained first aider where available in the school, calling emergency services, notifying the principal and attempting to make contact with parents/guardians.
  • It is essential that contact with local medical services has been established in advance and agreement in place on how to access the service in an emergency and what the school can expect in terms of support.
  • Liaison with external support services in this area is essential both as a source of ongoing support and for the provision of training.



General Procedure: Alleged Substance Misuse:

It is essential that all staff members know the signs and indicators of substance misuse.

  • Remain calm and keep a note of incident/s, noting date, time, place, any witness present, and the context and nature of the alleged incident.
  • Inform the principal of the incident and action taken to date.
  • Document where possible all relevant details and evidence relating to the incident.

Inform parents when the following apply:

  • Any reasonable suspicion of drug use.
  • Students alleged to have misused drugs does not understand the gravity of the situation.
  • Students alleged to have misused drugs needs support from parents and/or professional support.
  • Refer to the school counsellor/pastoral care team.
  • Liaise with Health Board for advice and assistance as soon as possible.
  • If the allegation suggests an initial incident or that it is experimental in nature it is important to remain supportive, reasonable and not to punish the person.
  • However in the event of continued misuse/a serious incident, the sanctions set out in the Code of Behaviour will be invoked. The sanctions invoked will make the distinction between minor and more serious offences. Referral to external agencies may also be appropriate in the event of specialised advice being required.
  • Students who breach the smoking policy will be subject to the schools code of behaviour sanctions.

General Procedure: Alleged trafficking of drugs within the school:

Trafficking refers to the supply of and giving of drugs to another, no money need change hands.

  • It is essential that all staff know the signs of drug misuse.
  • Remain calm and keep a note of alleged incident/s, noting date, time, place, any witness present, and the context and nature of the alleged incident.
  • Inform school principal of the incident and action taken to date.
  • Document where possible all relevant and evidence relating to the incident.
  • Inform parents immediately.
  • The normal disciplinary procedure will apply including immediate suspension pending further investigation.





  • Provision for training and staff development


The Board of Management of Cashel Community School will provide ongoing information through Staff Days and Seminars. Up to date information will be made available to the whole school community.



Designated teachers will receive information through the provision of a guest speaker who is an expert in the area of substance misuse. First-Aid training will be made available to designated staff.

Parents/Guardians and Board of Management

The school will continue to provide opportunities to attend information evenings and talks on issues relating to drugs and the school policy. As part of the induction for parents/guardians of students new to the school this policy will be examined in detail.


Cashel Community School will continue to offer all its students drug education programmes within the context of their mainstream curriculum.


Roles and Responsibilities

The school should respond to incidents involving alcohol, tobacco and substance misuse in a planned and considered way. In certain situations legal advice should be sought. Due care will be important in deciding on the balance between a pastoral response and a disciplinary response. An appropriate pastoral response to an incident involving substance misuse may involve referral to a support agency. Disciplinary procedures will be called in if school rules are broken and expulsion will be considered as a last option when other options have not worked. The principal, deputy principal, year head, Care Team and person(s) directly involved in the case will be informed and all written documentation will be held confidentially by the principal.

The role of the Principal

The duties and responsibilities of the principal (or nominee) in this regard include the following:


  • The principal is responsible in dealing with substance abuse incidents
  • All reports of substance abuse incidents or suspected incidents must be reported to the principal
  • The principal makes all decisions regarding investigation of a substance abuse incident
  • The principal is responsible for keeping all relevant parties properly informed and up to date regarding investigation developments
  • The principal is responsible for the secure storage or any substances or related paraphernalia and written documentation associated with the incident
  • The principal may seek the assistance of the deputy principal, year head and or guidance counsellor
  • The principal will be the point of contact in relation to all media enquiries





Staff cannot offer total confidentiality to a young person who discloses substance use involvement. We recognise the need for care in this area as the student may be coming to the teacher because they trust him/her and need help. The student will be informed that all disclosures will be made known to the principal. The handling of this situation will have an important bearing on the outcome. The student must be informed about all decisions that is happening and the reasons for any action that maybe taken. The well-being and welfare of the student and the teacher will be the primary focus.

The role of Parents/Guardians:

  • Parents/guardians are expected to acknowledge the importance of these programmes
  • Parents/guardians are asked to recognise that they are important stakeholders in the education process in relation to informing and educating their children regarding substance abuse
  • Parents/guardians are asked to cooperate fully with the substance abuse policy of Cashel Community School and with any incidents that may arise regarding substance within the school.
  • To assist parents/guardians with their role, the school will provide information on what is happening in the school regarding education programmes (SPHE etc.)

The role of visiting Speakers

A number of organisations and individuals offer or are asked to speak about drugs to students and parents. It is advised that the approach taken by the speaker and their purpose in speaking be carefully considered. Speakers have the greater chance of being effective when they are invited to make a presentation as part of an ongoing planned programme on health issues within the school.


  • The speaker will be advised in advance of the policy on substance misuse and the overall policy framework in operation within the school.
  • The speaker will meet where possible and submit the content of the proposed presentation to the coordinator in advance of the visit.
  • The coordinator will consult with relevant stakeholders eg principal, BOM, SPHE staff etc to review the proposed presentation.
  • The teacher will remain for the duration of the presentation.
  • A subsequent evaluation will take place with students and staff to determine the outcome of the presentation on those present.


Success Criteria

  • Feedback from all parties involved within the school environment.
  • Effectiveness of the policy dealing with any incidents.
  • Biannual meeting to discuss the on-going progress in relation to the effectiveness of the policy in C.C.S. and to discuss the strengths of the policy as well as to discuss areas for improvement.
  • Feedback from staff training and awareness – SPHE Support Service etc.

Monitoring of the Policy

The policy will be monitored on an ongoing basis to ensure that it is up to date with relevant substance use information.

The three areas are:

  • Substance Use Education Programmes
  • Managing Substance Use Related Incidents
  • Parents, Staff and Management Training

The monitoring process will be recorded and made available to the principal, staff, board of management, students and any other relevant persons who may be influenced by the policy.

Policy Review

The policy will be reviewed on an ongoing basis and changes may be applied in accordance with ongoing substance use trends. (Date of review to be agreed)


Teachers, parents, students and Board of Management will be involved in the evaluation of the policy when it has been in place for one year and any necessary changes will he incorporated in the three main areas outlined above.

Dissemination of policy / Timeframe

Copies of the draft policy will be disseminated to the school community, revision of the policy will then commence.

All outside agencies directly involved in Substance Abuse Education in CCS will be informed of the policy.It will be freely available from the principal’s office, Cashel Community School website and staff room and will be given to all new staff and parents of new children as part of their induction to the school.

Students will be made aware of the policy as part of their substance use education within the context of the various programmes previously outlined.




Cashel Community School Policy Committee 2016





Health Service Executive


Tipperary Regional Youth Service


Reviewed & Re-ratified:

















Misuse of Drugs Acts 1977 & Criminal Justice (Psychoactive Substances) Bill 2010

Misuse of Drugs Acts 1977

An Act to prevent the misuse of certain dangerous or otherwise harmful drugs, to enable the Minister for Health to make for that purpose certain regulations in relation to such drugs, to enable that Minister to provide that certain substances shall be poisons for the purposes of the pharmacy acts, 1875 to 1962, to amend the pharmacopoeia act, 1931 , the poisons act, 1961 , the pharmacy act, 1962 , and the health acts, 1947 to 1970, to repeal the dangerous drugs act, 1934 , and section78 of the health act, 1970 , and to make certain other provisions in relation to the foregoing. [16thmay, 1977]

Section 2

Controlled drugs

(1) In this Act “controlled drug” means any substance, product or preparation (other than a substance, product or preparation specified in an order under subsection (3) of this section which is for the time being in force) which is either specified in the Schedule to this Act or is for the time being declared pursuant to subsection (2) of this section to be a controlled drug for the purposes of this Act.


Section 3

Restriction on possession of controlled drugs.

(2) A person who has a controlled drug in his possession in contravention of subsection (1) of this section shall be guilty of an offence.

Section 5

Regulations to prevent misuse of controlled drugs.

(1) For the purpose of preventing the misuse of controlled drugs, the Minister may make regulations—

(a) prohibiting absolutely, or permitting subject to such conditions or exceptions as may be specified in the regulations, or subject to any licence, permit or other form of authority as may be so specified—

(i) the manufacture, production or preparation of controlled drugs,

(ii) the importation or exportation of controlled drugs,

(iii) the supply, the offering to supply or the distribution of controlled drugs,

(iv) the transportation of controlled drugs,

Section 19

Occupiers etc. permitting certain activities to take place on land, vehicle or vessel to be guilty of an offence.

  1. A person who is the occupier or is in control or is concerned in the management of any land, vehicle or vessel and who knowingly permits or suffers any of the following to take place on the land, vehicle or vessel, namely—
  2. the cultivation contrary to section 17 of this Act of opium poppy or any plant of the genus Cannabis,
  3. the preparation of opium for smoking,

iii. the preparation of cannabis for smoking,

  1. the smoking of cannabis, cannabis resin or prepared opium,
  2. the manufacture, production or preparation of a controlled drug in contravention of

regulations made under section 5 of this Act,

  1. the importation or exportation of a controlled drug in contravention of such regulations,

vii. the sale, supply or distribution of a controlled drug in contravention of such regulations,

viii. any attempt so to contravene such regulations, or

  1. the possession of a controlled drug in contravention of section 3 of this Act,
  2. shall be guilty of an offence.

Section 24

Powers to inspect and demand production of drugs, books or documents.

(1) For the purpose of enforcing this Act and regulations made thereunder, a member of the Garda Síochána or a person authorised in that behalf by the Minister in writing may at all reasonable times—

a.) enter any building or other premises in which a person carries on business as a producer,

manufacturer, seller or distributor of controlled drugs,

b.) require any such person, or any person employed in connection with such a business, to

produce any controlled drugs which are in his possession or under his control,

c.) require any such person, or any person so employed, to produce any books, records or

other documents which relate to transactions concerning controlled drugs and which are

in his possession or under his control, and

d.) inspect any controlled drug, book, record or other document produced in pursuance of a

requirement under this section.



Section 1 – Interpretation.

(1) In this Act—

“Act of 1977” means the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977;

“Advertisement” includes every form of advertisement, whether or not to the public, in a newspaper or other publication, on television or radio, by display of a notice, by electronic communication, including by means of the internet, or by any other means;

“Consumption”, in relation to a psychoactive substance, means to consume the substance (whether or not the substance concerned has been dissolved or dispersed in or diluted or mixed with any other substance)—

(a) orally,

(b) by smoking, insufflating or inhaling it,

(c) by injecting it,

(d) by applying it externally to the body of the person, or

(e) by otherwise introducing it into the body of a person;

“Controlled drug” has the same meaning as it has in section 2 of the Act of 1977;

“Psychoactive substance” means a substance, product, preparation, plant, fungus or natural organism which has, when consumed by a person, the capacity to—

(a) produce stimulation or depression of the central nervous system of the person, resulting in hallucinations or a significant disturbance in, or significant change to, motor function, thinking, behaviour, perception, awareness or mood, or

(b) Cause a state of dependence, including physical or psychological addiction;

Prohibition of sale etc. of psychoactive substances.

A person who sells a psychoactive substance knowing or being reckless as to whether that substance is being acquired or supplied for human consumption shall be guilty of an offence.