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Substance Abuse Policy


Substance Abuse Policy

Committee: S. Egan, P Crowley, A. Franks, R. Kinsella, Sr. B O’Driscoll,

M. Loughnane S. Costello, M. Finneran, F. Mahon, P. Flaherty, J. Kennedy,

J.McCarthy, T. Cusack, C. Doyle and N. Masterson



Review Date

Adopted By

Proposed By

Seconded By

Date Adopted

Due for Review

Feb. 2015


M. Finneran

Paul D’Arcy

16th Mar. 2015














Mission Statement:


We aim to create a caring community of learning where each individual

is valued as a unique human being.



 Definition of ‘a drug’:

A drug is defined as any substance which changes the way the body functions be it mentally, physically or emotionally.

 The Use of Drugs in St. Brendan’s Community School:

St. Brendan’s Community School does not accept the possession, use or supply of drugs on the school premises or grounds, on school trips by any member of the school community, visitors or otherwise. The only exception is for legitimate medicinal use and the school must be informed by the parents/guardians in writing.

 Rationale for Substance Abuse Policy:

The world in which we live presents young people with many challenges that affect their health and wellbeing. Exposure to alcohol, tobacco and drugs has become a part of that reality. Our school has reflected upon how we might provide for the needs of our student cohort and respond appropriately to what are sometimes sensitive and emotive issues. We, at St. Brendan’s Community School, are trying to address these issues in this policy. We recognise that it is important for schools to develop policies and procedures in advance of drug-related incidents and issues coming to attention.

  • This policy is part of a general pastoral approach being adopted by this school to ensure a caring community of learning environment. This policy serves to strengthen, affirm and promote the school’s ethos.
  • No school or parent can afford to be complacent or think that their children are not at risk. This school asserts its right to protect and promote its school ethos by requiring certain standards of behaviour and prohibiting certain practices. 
  • The school policy aims to co-operate fully with the strategic plan adopted by the government under the National Drugs Strategy 2001-2008 which was made mandatory for schools in Circular 18/02.
  • The Education Act 1998 provides that schools promote the social and personal education of students and provide health education for them.
  • The National Drugs Strategy, ‘Building on Experience’ is now government policy and it requires schools to have a substance abuse policy in place
  • Other reports from the National Advisory Committee on Drugs entitled ‘Drug Use Prevention’ underlines the importance of school developing a substance abuse policy and the 1999 European School Survey Project on Alcohol and other Drugs (ESPAD) highlighted the seriousness of the problem amongst 16 year olds in Ireland. Alcohol was identified as the dominant drug of misuse in Ireland.

As a result St. Brendan’s Community School has initiated a Substance Abuse Policy. This policy applies to the entire school community, including teachers, students, parents/guardians and users of the school building.

Relevant Resources, Documentation and Legislation
Walk Tall Programme: 
SPHE programme for the prevention of Substance Misuse  (DES),Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures for Post Primary School DES (2001 and 2008), On My Own Two Feet Educational resource material for SPHE (DES),Directory of Alcohol, Drugs and related services in the Republic of Ireland Health Promotion Unit, Department of Health and Children.


St. Brendan’s Community School is committed to addressing the needs of the whole school in relation to alcohol, drugs and tobacco use. The school aims to provide a safe environment for all. We believe that teachers, parents and guardians and members of the Board of Management need to work together and that co-operation is essential to the acceptance and implementation of this policy.

Management and Staff

St. Brendan’s Community School is committed to providing a comprehensive and time-tabled drug education programme for all students which is incorporated into the Social, Personal and Health Education Programme currently running in the school.

Currently, in page 17 of the Staff Diary and contained within the Positive Code of Behaviour are the following:

Our educational intentions in relation to Substance Abuse Education are:

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

These intentions will be met through the following actions:

  • All teachers involved in the teaching of SPHE are given an opportunity to avail of relevant training
  • The school with continue to draw on the expertise and support of the local Gardai
  • At Junior level students will receive Drug Education through SPHE class
  • At Senior level students will receive drug education through SPHE and RSE

Parents and Guardians:

Parents and Guardians have the most influence on the lives of children and are therefore crucial in any prevention issues which arise.

Parents and Guardians are asked/expected to:

  • Acknowledge the importance of these programmes – SPHE, RSE
  • Recognise that they are important stakeholders in the education process in relation to informing and educating their children regarding substance abuse
  • Assist and co-operate fully with the school as it seeks to deal justly and effectively with any substance abuse issues that may arise 

To assist Parents and Guardians in their role the school will:

  • Provide them with information in relation to education programmes
  • Encourage and welcome consultation with parents on the best use of available resources in the community to support the school in its programme and policy implementation.

St. Brendan’s Community School’s Procedures for Managing Alcohol, Tobacco, Drug Related or Substance Abuse Incidents: 

In the event of a substance abuse incident, the school will seek to strike a balance between the welfare of the student(s) involved and the welfare of the school community as a whole and the reputation of the school.

Procedure: The following is a summary of the steps to be taken in managing and investigating a substance abuse issue. For a more detailed procedure please refer to the appendix.

  1. Where it is apparent that there is an immediate danger to students or the school community the school reserves the right to suspend or remove temporarily from the school any student involved in a suspected substance abuse incident pending a further and complete investigation into the incident.
  2. The school will take all of the steps necessary to fully investigate and assess any substance abuse incident and will record the suspicion/incident and complete a Substance Abuse Form (available upon request from the office). The need to liaise with appropriate outside agencies and parents is recognised.
  3. The school will immediately take possession of any banned or prohibited substances and drug paraphernalia associated with a substance abuse incident, carefully recording all such items and retaining them pending completion of the investigation, unless otherwise instructed by appropriate outside agencies.
  4. In the result of a completed investigation, the Board of Management may implement disciplinary procedures, which may include an oral warning, a written warning, a suspension of three days, a suspension of more than three days duration, other sanctions short of expulsions and expulsion.
  5. The school will endeavour to provide pastoral support to the student and their parents/guardians affected by any incident of substance abuse. These incidents can sometimes be traumatic and the services of a tutor, guidance counsellor, chaplain would demonstrate the school’s commitment to caring for all students.

Student Drug Testing:

The Board of Management or Principal shall have the right to require any student(s) to undergo a drugs test and may require a student to undertake a series of drugs tests in the event of:

  1. A positive result and/or
  2. A student found in the possession of drugs and/or
  3. The student has been before the courts in any matter relating to drugs

In the case of a minor the parents/guardians will be informed before a drug test takes place and will be informed of the results of the test.

A positive drug test constitutes a breach of this policy.

Banned Substance Search:

The school reserves the right to search any part of school property, school bags, vehicles or other belongings on school property or at any school event or school trip. Students may be given the opportunity to surrender the drug prior to the search.

Where there is reasonable belief that a student or person is in possession of a drug and refuses to surrender the drug, the Gardai may be contacted and asked to conduct the search. Two staff members are required to be present during any form of search. Every effort will be made to notify the parents/guardians of any student prior to a search being conducted.

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, School Library and Drug Co-Ordinator. 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. 

Monitoring, Reviewing and Evaluating:

St. Brendan’s Community School, teachers, parents/guardians and the Board of Management will monitor, review and evaluate this Policy and all related work and procedures after this policy has been in place for one year to ensure legal compliance and maintenance of best practice.


Signed:- ____________________                 Date:- __________________


               Board of Management 


Student Substance Abuse Report Form

St. Brendan’s Community School

Date:                                                 ____________

Referred By:                       _______________________________

Student(s) Name(s):        _______________________________

Nature of Incident:


Signature: _________________________________



Date of Referral to Principal:    _______________________

Names of Parents/Guardians contacted: ________________________________________________________________

Referred to the Councellor:

Date: _______________________               Name: _____________________
Further Details:





The Involvement and Roles of THE PRINCIPAL in an Incident/Investigation:

The Principal:

The Principal or her 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 Principals behalf.

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

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

The Involvement and Roles of TEACHERS in an Incident/Investigation:


  1. Responsible for making every effort to recognise or identify suspected breaches of this policy
  2. Referring any suspected breaches of this policy to the Principal

The Involvement and Roles of PARENTS in an Incident/Investigation:


  1. The school may wish to contact the parents of a student for a variety of reasons regarding a suspected substance abuse incident.
  2. The school will immediately inform parents should there be a concern regarding the health and welfare of a students
  3. The school will keep parents and students informed, where appropriate, about what is happening and why
  4. Parents and students should recognise and appreciate that teachers and staff cannot offer total confidentiality when they come into contact with substance abuse incidents or suspected substance abuse incidents.
  5. Parents will be provided with the name and number of an appropriate external agency should they wish to seek further support for themselves.

The Involvement and Roles of GARDAI in an Incident/Investigation:


In incidents involving the supply of illegal drugs, the school will inform the local Gardai. The Gardai may also be approached for advice about other incident on a case by case basis.

The Involvement and Roles of MEDIA in an Incident/Investigation:


  • The Principal is the point of contact in relation to all media enquiries
  • The school will not comment on individuals or individual cases whilst an investigation is underway other than to outline the schools policy in relation to managing such incidents
  • The Board of Management may clarify the school’s position regarding an incident when the investigation has concluded and its findings have been viewed.


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