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Family Focus.

Family Focus is an interactive six-session programme that promotes the role of the parent in educating their young people about the risks associated with substance use, in an effort to reduce the demand for drugs.


Delivered with a health promotion framework, our programme provides participants with an opportunity to:

  • receive up-to-date information on drugs and their effects
  • explore attitudes and decisions about substance misuse
  • develop a family focused drug prevention strategy


Problems with alcohol and other drugs affect people of all ages and all walks of life.  Many parents find it difficult to discuss drugs and drug related issues with their children.  They may feel they know too little to have any real impact on the opinions of their young people.  Yet, studies clearly show that parents have a positive impact on  the lifestyle choices and drug taking behaviour of their children. The programme is delivered from a health-promoting standpoint and was developed from the perspective of Primary Prevention i.e. to prevent the onset of a substance related problems. Since this programme was piloted in 1993, ( it was formerly known as ‘Parenting for Prevention’ programme ) it has been  delivered in 425 communities and parental groups, and engaged 5007 parents, guardians and carers. CAD continuously evaluates Family Focus with participants, and over the years has engaged past participants in research in order to ensure the programme develops in accordance with participants needs. Two external evaluations have also been undertaken. One, “Mobilising an Educated Response” was completed in 2008 in conjunction with our 25 years of service. Click here to read Mobilising an Educated Response. The second “Community Based Drug Education Programme and Tutor Training Programme” was completed in 2016. Click here to read Community Based Drug Education Evaluation Report 2016

Family Focus is a model of best practice recognised in both Ireland and Europe. Under it’s former name it has been selected for inclusion in the Exchange on Drug Demand Reduction Action (EDDRA), the multi-lingual online information system and data collection tool on best practice in responding to drug use in the EU, attached to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA).The programme meets the criteria for recommended principles of best practice in parenting education based on the outcome of the conference ‘Towards Best Practice in Parenting Education’ that was held in Ireland in 1999.

The responses of parents to Family Focus are overwhelmingly positive as parents recognise the need for information, resources and support at community level.


Family Focus has its origins  in European Drug Prevention Week 1992 .   Agencies from all over Europe were developing a variety of initiatives to highlight during that week.   CAD had received funding from The Department of Health to attend a conference in the Hague and on the return journey, two senior CAD personnel agreed that a multi- session programme would be beneficial to communities across Dublin.  Plans were laid to complete that task.   A pilot programme was rolled out with the help of Addiction Counsellors and Home/ School Liaison Personnel.  Evaluations proved positive and the way was paved to extend such programmes across Leinster.   Staff continue to develop and improve the programme based on a needs analysis.   Parents contribute greatly in the way they constantly interact and evaluate the programme.

An opportunity arose to extend the programme to the North East Regional Drugs Task Force Area (Cavan, Monaghan, Louth & Meath).  Locally based agencies nominated staff and volunteers to train with CAD as Family Focus Tutors.  They now deliver the Family Focus Programme in the North East.


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