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Pike, Brigid (2008) Flash Eurobarometer on young people and drugs. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 27, Autumn 2008, p. 7.

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In May 2008 Eurobarometer published the results of a survey of young EU citizens’ attitudes and perceptions about the drugs issue.1 The fieldwork was carried out between 14 and 18 May 2008. Over 12,000 randomly selected 15–24-year-olds were interviewed across the 27 EU member states. The survey was carried out by telephone, with web-based computer assisted telephone interviewing (WebCATI).2 The findings relating to Irish respondents are summarised below.

 Potential and actual sources of information on drugs
Ireland had the highest proportion of respondents who would choose to talk to a friend when looking for more information about illicit drugs and drugs use. Irish young people were also among those most liable to talk to their parents or relatives about drugs and drug use. While Irish respondents favoured talking to a health professional such as a doctor or nurse, they clearly did not favour talking to a counsellor or someone else at a specialised drug centre. When asked about information channels used in the past year, Irish respondents reported a rather different pattern: they had drawn principally on media campaigns, followed by friends, and then Internet sources.
Perceived health risks of using drugs
Respondents were asked to rank the health risks associated with various substances as high, medium or low. Substances seen by most Irish respondents as posing a medium or high risk to health were heroin (98.7%), cocaine (98.5%) and ecstasy (95%). Smaller percentages of respondents regarded as medium or high the risk posed to health by tobacco (78.8%), cannabis (74.2%) and alcohol (73.5%). Only 12.7% perceived alcohol as posing a high risk, while 28.4% deemed tobacco and 30.1% deemed cannabis as doing so.
How should society’s drug problems be tackled?
Respondents were asked to rank a series of actions that public authorities could take to deal with the drug problem as either the ‘most effective’ or the ‘second most effective’ way of combating the problem. Respondents in Ireland were among the least likely to see the clampdown on drug dealers and traffickers as effective. Conversely, Irish respondents were among the most likely to believe that the treatment and rehabilitation of drug users was an effective way to deal with society’s drug problems. Irish respondents (22%), along with those in the UK and The Netherlands, were the ones who most favoured the legalisation of drugs.
To ban or regulate illicit drugs, alcohol and tobacco?
Substances that most Irish respondents felt should continue to be banned were heroin (97%), cocaine (95%) and ecstasy (95%). Just 61% of Irish respondents believed that cannabis should continue to be banned, and 39% believed that it should be regulated. With regard to alcohol, the largest proportions of respondents who supported continued regulation were found in the The Netherlands and Ireland (96%); just 4% of Irish respondents favoured the banning of alcohol.  With regard to tobacco, 80% of Irish respondents believed that it should continue to be regulated, while 20% believed it should be banned.
Access to illicit drugs, alcohol and tobacco
With regard to illicit drugs, Irish respondents were among the most likely to say that it was easy to obtain heroin, cocaine, ecstasy and cannabis, if they wanted to. Young people in Ireland were among those most likely to say that they could easily obtain alcohol and tobacco. Cross-tabulating respondents’ perceptions of the health risks associated with drug use and their answers relating to the ease of obtaining the drugs showed that young people who found it easier to obtain the substances also perceived the health risks associated with drug use to be less serious.   
1. The Gallup Organization (2008) Young people and drugs among 15–24 year-olds: analytical report. Flash Eurobarometer 233. European Commission. Retrieved 11 July 2008 at https://www.drugsandalcohol.ie/22578/ This survey built on two earlier surveys of young people and drugs in the old EU15 in 2002 and 2004 (Special Eurobarometer No 172 and Flash Eurobarometer No 158). The topics covered ranged from the consumption of various drugs and young people’s involvement in the drug culture to the dangers associated with various products and young people’ opinions about the effectiveness of policies aimed at solving society’s drug-related problems.
2. To correct for sampling disparities, a post-stratification weighting of the results was implemented, based on socio-demographic variables.
Item Type
Publication Type
International, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
All substances
Issue Title
Issue 27, Autumn 2008
Page Range
p. 7
Health Research Board
Issue 27, Autumn 2008
Accession Number
HRB (Available)

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