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Home > Substance use among third-level students in Limerick.

Long, Jean (2011) Substance use among third-level students in Limerick. Drugnet Ireland , Issue 38, Summer 2011 , p. 15.

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Houghton and colleagues1 examined students’ health and lifestyles in a quota sample survey2 that included questions on recent (within the last year) drug use. One thousand students attending lectures were asked to participate in the survey and 76% (742) did so. Participants ranged in age from 17 to 63 years and half were aged 20 or under. Fifty-two per cent (386) were men. Five (0.7%) reported that they had taken ‘Revelin’ (the name of a dummy drug) and these were excluded from the analysis.  

Cannabis was the most common illegal drug taken; one-third of students reported having taken it at least once in in the year prior to the survey (Table 1). Cocaine was also commonly used, with 13% taking it during the same time period. Ecstasy was taken by 12% of respondents. Similar proportions took magic mushrooms (7%) and amphetamines (7%). Five per cent were prescribed tranquillisers and 3% took tranquillisers that were not prescribed for them. Similar proportions took LSD and solvents. Only 0.9% took heroin, and 0.5% injected an illicit drug, in the last year. Almost 18% of respondents took more than one drug concurrently (polydrug use). Men were marginally more likely to take drugs than women. The authors state that the high rates of drug use have implications for physical and mental health.
1.   Houghton F, Keane N, Murphy N, Houghton S and Dunne C (2011) 12 month prevalence of drug use among third-level students in Limerick City. Irish Medical Journal, 104 (5).
2.   See also two short papers by Houghton et al. (2010) on alcohol use and smoking among the same sample of students in National Institute of Health Sciences Research Bulletin, 5(4):104–107.

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