Home > The 2019–20 Irish National Drug and Alcohol Survey: main findings.

Mongan, Deirdre and Millar, Sean and Galvin, Brian (2021) The 2019–20 Irish National Drug and Alcohol Survey: main findings. Dublin: Health Research Board.

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The National Drug and Alcohol Survey (NDAS) collects information on alcohol and tobacco consumption and drug use among the general population in Ireland. It also surveys people’s attitudes and perceptions relating to tobacco, alcohol, and other drug use and records the impact of drug use on people’s communities. The 2019–20 NDAS collected information from 5,762 people aged 15 years and older across Ireland.

Key findings

  • One-in-fourteen (7%) people have used an illegal drug in the last year. This hasn’t changed since the most recent survey in 2014–15.
  • There has been an increase in the number of people who use illegal stimulants (cocaine, ecstasy, amphetamines) and a small decrease in the number of people using cannabis.
  • 15–24-year-olds are most likely to report drug use. Men are twice as likely as women to use drugs.
  • A wider range of drugs are being used since the previous survey, with 25% of those who used drugs in the last year reporting use of at least three different drugs compared with 15% in 2014–15.
  • Cocaine use has increased across all age groups. Men aged 25–34 are most likely to report cocaine use in the last year, rising from 2% in 2002–03 to 9% in 2019–20.
  • Nine-in-ten people support the use of cannabis for medical purposes, while less than three-in-ten support recreational use.
  • In areas that are most and least deprived there is little difference in the prevalence of drug use, while communities with high levels of deprivation are disproportionately impacted by the negative effects of drug use activities in their local area.
  • There are fewer smokers than ever before. The current survey is the first time that the proportion of ex-smokers was found to be greater than current smokers. Health concerns, cost and health warning labels were cited as the main reasons for quitting.
  • One-in-five drinkers have an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD); this increases to one-in-three among drinkers aged 15–24 years. Drinkers with AUD were 13 times more likely to experience alcohol-related harm compared to low-risk drinkers.
Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, Report
Drug Type
Alcohol, All substances, Substances (not alcohol/tobacco), Cannabis, CNS depressants / Sedatives, CNS stimulants, Cocaine, Inhalents and solvents, Opioid, New psychoactive substance, Prescription/Over the counter, Tobacco / Nicotine
Intervention Type
General / Comprehensive, Screening / Assessment
1 July 2021
65 p.
Health Research Board
Place of Publication
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