The health and social problems caused by the consumption of alcohol and illicit drugs are of major concern to policy makers and health service agencies, as well as being subjects of media interest and general public concern. Perhaps it is not surprising that addiction, overdose, HIV/AIDS, drug-related crime, drunken driving, public order offences, and adolescent drug use are frequently presented in a sensationalist way in media and popular cultural discussion of such topics. For policy makers and health service providers, however, sensationalist debate of this kind services little useful purpose in the quest to create an effective and popularly acceptable health service response. Using a health promotion framework, this book traces the evolution of Irish health policy on alcohol and illicit drugs over a fifty-year period, from the mid-1940s to the mid-1990s. It confirms the futility of basing policy on simplistic concepts such as the ‘disease concept’ of alcoholism or the ‘war on drugs’, and while broadly positive in its assessment of health promotional concepts, urges that greater attention may be given to the ways in which health promotion can be moved beyond rhetoric and made a reality.