Home > Irish Travellers and drug use: an exploratory study.

Van Hout, Marie Claire (2009) Irish Travellers and drug use: an exploratory study. Ethnicity and Inequalities in Health and Social Care, 2, (1), pp. 42-49. https://doi.org/10.1108/17570980200900007.

The challenge for drug and health promotion services is to keep up-to-date with the dynamics of drug use patterns and trends both nationally and within certain groups (Kilpatrick, 2000).

The traveller community present with lower but similar levels and patterns of drug use than the general population, but are particularly vulnerable to early onset of drug use and problematic substance use relating to their life circumstances. Drug use in the traveller community is facilitated and mediated by a combination of risk and resilience factors, which include lack of education, unemployment, comprised health and poor housing conditions.

The research aimed to provide an explorative account of the issue of drug use in the traveller community and consisted of focus groups (N=12) of travellers (N=57) with a gender balance (47/53%) based on self-selection and volunteerism. The focus groups (4-5 individuals) were predominantly peer-accompanied where a traveller guided the facilitation of the traveller focus groups and were also gender based. The focus groups incorporated the following key themes relating to the travellers and drug use; traveller culture and drug use, drug availability and dealing, gender differences in drug use, types of drugs used, reasons for drug use, levels of drug related knowledge, attitude to drug use, drug taking contexts and patterns, problematic drug use in the traveller community, drug awareness, perceptions of risk and experiences of drug treatment and community services.

The travellers indicated increased drug availability in recent years. Some members of their community were dealing in and using drugs, as a result of unemployment, lack of education, depression, and increasing contact with the settled community. This has lead to a fragmentation of traveller culture. Traveller men are at heightened risk of substance dependency in terms of increased contact with drugs such as cocaine, speed, hash and ecstasy. In contrast, traveller women reported prescription medication abuse. The travellers described a fear of problematic drug use within their communities coupled with concern in terms of discriminatory experiences with health and drug services, lack of awareness of current service provision and the lack of culturally appropriate drug education material and addiction counseling.

Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, Article
Drug Type
Substances (not alcohol/tobacco)
March 2009
Identification #
Page Range
pp. 42-49
Related (external) link

Click here to request a copy of this literature

Repository Staff Only: item control page