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Home > 141. Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs his views regarding the use of cocaine, cannabis and ecstasy in Irish society.

[Oireachtas] 141. Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs his views regarding the use of cocaine, cannabis and ecstasy in Irish society. (24 Nov 2010)

URL: http://debates.oireachtas.ie/dail/2010/11/24/00106...


 141.  Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs his views regarding the use of cocaine, cannabis and ecstasy in Irish society that sees Ireland in the top ten users in the EU, in each instance; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  

143.  Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs the actions he or any agency within his remit has taken to address the concerns expressed regarding the contents of a report (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. 
 
144.  Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs the actions he has taken to address the use of illicit substances by 15 and 16 year olds as stated in a recent newspaper article that showed this age group using at least once, an illicit substance 15%, cannabis 20% solvents 15% ecstasy 4% cocaine 4%, amphetamines 3%, tranquilisers 13%; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
 

Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs (Deputy Pat Carey): I propose to take Question Nos. 141, 143 and 144 together.

 

The data to which the Deputy refers is primarily drawn from the 2010 annual report of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA). This report is compiled based on the inputs of the relevant national agencies, the Health Research Board in the case of Ireland.

 

There is a need for caution when using such data to derive cross-European comparisons as a number of factors make this difficult to achieve with accuracy. These factors include the timeliness of the data supplied, the different methodologies used in collecting data, drug market segmentation across Europe and the fact that not all countries may report on various aspects of the illicit drugs situation.

 

By definition the data in the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction report will be somewhat out of date, given that it is compiled nationally before transmission to the EMCDDA. Also, countries report at different times on different aspects of their drugs situation. Most of the Irish data on drugs prevalence is based on the Drugs Prevalence Survey 2006/07. This data is currently being updated with the fieldwork of the Drugs Prevalence Survey 2010/11 being undertaken at present and with first reports therefrom expected towards the end of 2011.

Drugs market segmentation also impacts on comparisons across Europe, particularly in relation to the use of stimulants. Heavier use of cocaine is generally associated with Western Europe while amphetamines are more prominent in the eastern countries of Europe. This is reflected in the figures for Ireland. Ireland is considered to be a mid-ranking user of cannabis, while ecstasy use has diminished significantly here in recent times, as it has across much of Europe.

 

As regards heroin, the newspaper article acknowledges that the data in the EMCDDA report was based on returns from only 15 countries. The EMCDDA also indicated the need for caution in making comparisons due to different methodologies used by countries in compiling their figures. The Irish input is based on a study published by the National Advisory Committee on Drugs (NACD) in December 2009. As was indicated then, due to a number of technical factors associated with the capture/recapture methodology used, the figures were regarded as an overestimate of the opiate using population here. It is generally recognised that it is difficult to estimate numbers in cases (such as heroin consumption) where a “hidden population” is involved. The NACD are currently undertaking research aimed at identifying an appropriate estimate model for use in Ireland, taking the data sources available into consideration. A report is expected in this regard early in 2011. At the same time, I accept that heroin use remains as a major problem in our country. All the indications are that, while the use of heroin is relatively stable in the Dublin region, it has become more widely dispersed around the country, particularly in the major cities and in towns across Leinster.

 

The statistics on lifetime drug use among 15 and 16 year olds are taken from the 2007 European Schools Project for Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD) report which was published in 2009. While the figures outlined reinforce the need for continued prevention measures under the National Drugs Strategy, they represent a decrease on the corresponding figures in the previous such report. The data referenced was taken on board in the drawing up of the National Drugs Strategy 2009-2016 and I am confident that the implementation of the Strategy will impact significantly on the issue of problem drug use in Ireland.

 
Written Answers – National Drugs Strategy
Wednesday, 24 November 2010
Vol. 723 No. 3

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