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Home > Drug use in the general population, 2006/7: repeat survey.

Long, Jean (2008) Drug use in the general population, 2006/7: repeat survey. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 25, Spring 2008, pp. 15-17.

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On 25 January 2008, the National Advisory Committee on Drugs (NACD) and the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (Northern Ireland) published jointly the second all-Ireland general population drug prevalence survey.1 Minister of State with responsibility for drugs strategy, Pat Carey TD, launched the findings for Ireland.

Drug prevalence surveys of the general population are important in that they can shed light on the patterns of drug use, both demographically and geographically and, when repeated, can track changes over time. They help to increase our understanding of drug use, and to formulate and evaluate drug policies. They also enable informed international comparisons provided countries conduct surveys in a comparable manner.

The Irish survey followed best practice guidelines recommended by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA). The questionnaire, based on the ‘European Model Questionnaire’, was administered in face-to-face interviews with respondents aged between 15 and 64 years normally resident in households in Ireland and Northern Ireland. With the exception of two questions and two show cards, the questionnaire employed for the 2006/7 survey was the same as that used in 2002/3. Fieldwork was carried out by MORI MRC during late 2006 and early 2007. The final achieved sample was 4,967 in Ireland. This represented a response rate of 65%. The sample was weighted by gender, age and region to ensure that it was representative of the general population. The proportion of adults (aged 15–64 years) who reported using an illegal drug in their lifetime increased by five percentage points, from 19% in 2002/3 to 24% in 2006/7 (Table 1).

The proportion of young adults (aged 15–34 years) who reported using an illegal drug in their lifetime also increased by five percentage points, from 26% in 2002/3 to 31% in 2006/7. As expected, more men reported using an illegal drug in their lifetime than women.

The proportion of adults who reported using an illegal drug in the last year increased marginally, from 6% in 2002/3 to 7% in 2006/7 (Table 1). The proportion of young adults who reported using an illegal drug in the last year increased from 10% in 2002/3 to 12% in 2006/7. The proportion of adults who reported using an illegal drug in the last month remained stable.

 

Cannabis was the most commonly used illegal drug in Ireland. The proportion of adults who reported using cannabis at some point in their life increased from 17% in 2002/3 to 22% in 2006/7 (Table 2). Proportions using cannabis reflect the same pattern as the proportions using any illegal drug described above.


Nine per cent of young adults claimed to have tried ecstasy at least once in their lifetime in 2006/7 (Table 3).

Cocaine use increased in 2006/7 compared to 2002/3. The proportion of adults who reported using cocaine (including crack) at some point in their lives increased from 3% in 2002/3 to 5% in 2006/7 (Table 4). The proportion of young adults who reported using cocaine in their lifetime also increased, from 5% in 2002/3 to 8% in 2006/7. As expected, more men reported using cocaine in their lifetime than women.

The proportion of adults who reported using cocaine in the last year increased from 1% in 2002/3 to 2% in 2006/7 (Table 4). The proportion of young adults who reported using cocaine in the last year increased from 2% in 2002/3 to 3% in 2006/7. The proportion of adults who reported using cocaine in the last month remained stable at under 1%.

There was a considerable increase in the proportions using any illegal drug at some point in their lives. This is influenced by the fact that drug use in Ireland is a recent phenomenon and that the population of lifetime and recent drug users in Ireland is relatively young. Drug use is measured among adults aged 15–65, and those leaving this age group over the next fifteen to twenty years are less likely to have been exposed to drug use than those entering the measurement cohort.

Survey data on drug use in the last year shows an increase in the proportions using cannabis and, to a lesser extent, cocaine. These results follow trends observed in treatment data. At the launch of this report, Minister Carey said: ‘While cannabis continues to be the most commonly used illegal drug, cocaine use has grown, particularly among the young adult population. This finding is in line with [the findings of a joint NACD/NDST] report on cocaine which was published last year, with the experiences of those working in the field and with expectations generally.’

When compared to the 19 countries that completed a general population survey on drug use, Ireland ranks seventh for lifetime use of cannabis, fourth for lifetime use of amphetamines, fourth for use of cocaine, third for ecstasy and third for LSD. (Jean Long)

1. National Advisory Committee on Drugs and Drug and Alcohol Information and Research Unit (2008) Drug use in Ireland and Northern Ireland: first results from the 2006/2007 drug prevalence survey. Dublin: National Advisory Committee on Drugs.

2. National Advisory Committee on Drugs and Drug and Alcohol Information and Research Unit (2005) Drug use in Ireland and Northern Ireland: first results (revised) from the 2002/2003 drug prevalence survey. Dublin: National Advisory Committee on Drugs.

Item Type
Article
Publication Type
Irish-related, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
All substances
Issue Title
Issue 25, Spring 2008
Date
2008
Page Range
pp. 15-17
Publisher
Health Research Board
Volume
Issue 25, Spring 2008
EndNote
Accession Number
HRB (Available)

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