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Home > Drug use in Irish schools: a comparison with other countries.

Morgan, Mark and Grube, Joel W (1989) Drug use in Irish schools: a comparison with other countries. Oideas : Journal of the Department of Education, 34, pp. 21-31.

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Depending on what criteria one adopts, the most serious drug problem in Irish schools might be 'cigarettes' or 'alcohol' or one of the illegal substances. In order to decide on the seriousness of a drug problem, it is necessary not only to consider the numbers using the substance, but also to compare the findings longitudinally and cross-culturally. This article reported on a three-phase survey of the reported use of cigarettes, alcohol and illegal drugs by 3,000 randomly-selected second-level pupils aged between 12.5 and 18 years in the Dublin area. Twenty-four post-primary schools were involved, representing the full range of socio-economic backgrounds. A self-administered, anonymous questionnaire was used to gather information. The research results showed that over two-thirds of the sample had smoked a cigarette at one time in their lives, while over one-third had smoked in the previous month, and hence were defined as current smokers. When these findings were compared with
other countries, the level of smoking among Irish school-goers was found to be 'extremely high'. With regard to drinking, almost two-thirds of those surveyed reported that they had ever consumed an alcoholic drink, and one-third of the sample said that they had felt drunk at least once. When these rates were compared with other countries, it was found that the levels of drinking in Ireland were mid-way between low-consumption countries like Israel and high-consumption countries like France. Regarding drugs, marijuana and glue or other inhalants were found to be the most frequently misused substances; about 13% of the sample reported that they had tried each of these at some time in their lives. The level of illegal drug use found in the present study, however, was judged to be low when compared with that in other countries.


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