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National Advisory Committee on Drugs and Alcohol

The NACDA was established in response to the drug problem to assist in our continued need to improve our knowledge and understanding of problem drug use.

The goal of the NACDA is to advise the Government on problem drug use in Ireland in relation to prevalence, prevention consequences and treatment based on our analysis and interpretation of research findings.

2014/15 Drugs Survey reveals a rise in levels of recent and current drug use in most Regional Drug and Alcohol Task Force Areas

Recent and current levels of illegal drug use have risen in most Regional Drug and Alcohol Task Force (RDATF) areas between 2010/11 and 2014/15.  This finding is revealed in the bulletin, Drug Use and Gambling in Ireland and Drug Use in Northern Ireland 2014/15: Regional Drug and Alcohol Task Force (Ireland) and Health and Social Care Trust (Northern Ireland) Results, released today by the National Advisory Committee on Drugs and Alcohol (NACDA) and the Public Health Information and Research Branch of the Department of Health in Northern Ireland.  Full Report Here. This bulletin provides a breakdown of prevalence rates by region for use of illegal drugs, tobacco, alcohol, gambling, sedatives, tranquillisers and anti-depressants.

The Chair of the NACDA, Prof Catherine Comiskey stated: “It is significant that levels of recent and current drug use have risen between 2010/11 and 2014/15 for all illegal drugs.  In examining the regional data, we see that prevalence of illegal drug use varies across RDATF areas.  A comparison of the 2014/15 figures with 2010/11 figures shows an overall increase in recent and current use of cannabis, ecstasy and anti-depressants for many regions. There are some exceptions, in particular the Mid-Western RDATF area which has seen reductions or similar rates to 2010/11 for recent and current use of cannabis, ecstasy and anti-depressants”.

The key findings area:
Lifetime use
• Prevalence rate for lifetime use of any illegal drug was highest in the East Coast and Northern RDATF areas (both 41%) and lowest in the North Western RDATF (20%).

Last year prevalence
• Cannabis was the most frequently used illegal drug in all RDATF areas in the year prior to the survey and after cannabis, ecstasy and cocaine were the most frequently reported illegal drugs for recent use.
• Cannabis use in the last year by young adults (aged 15-34) has increased significantly in many RDATF regions.
• Recent use of any illegal drug was highest in the South Western RDATF area (12%) and lowest in the Mid-Western RDATF area (5%).
• Recent use of ecstasy in young adults (aged 15-34) has increased in all RDATF areas and significantly so in many areas.  The largest increases are seen in the Western and South Western RDATFs.
• Recent use of other opiates was highest in the South Western RDATF area (58%) and lowest in the North Eastern RDATF area (35%).
• Recent use of anti-depressants was highest in the South Eastern RDATF area (9%) and lowest in the Mid-Western and North Western RDATF areas (both 4%).
• Last year alcohol prevalence ranged from 67% in the North Western RDATF area to 83% in the South Western RDATF area.
• Recent tobacco use was highest in the South Western RDATF area (35%), followed by the East Coast RDATF area (34%), and lowest in the South RDATF area (28%).
• The lowest rates of last year use of any illegal drug by young adults (aged 15-34) are seen in the three most southerly RDATFs - Southern, Mid-Western and South Eastern

Last month use
• Current use of any illegal drugs was also highest in the South Western RDATF area (8%) and lowest in the Mid-Western RDATF area (2%).
• As in previous surveys, males are more likely to take illegal drugs than females, and young adults (15-34) more likely than older adults (35-64).

The results of the 2014/15 Drug Prevalence Survey will help to strengthen the evidence based for the new National Drugs Strategy.
ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

  1. The 2014/15 Drug Prevalence Survey in Ireland and Northern Ireland is a collaborative project between the National Advisory Committee on Drugs and Alcohol and colleagues in the Public Information and Health Research Branch (PHIRB) within the Department of Health in Northern Ireland. 
  2. This survey has previously been conducted in 2002/03, 2006/07 and 2010/11.
  3. The questionnaire and methodology for this general population survey were based on best practice guidelines drawn up by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.
  4. The population survey is a drug prevalence survey and is intended to reflect drug use in the general population as a whole. For the purposes of this survey, we take the general population to mean those aged 15+ and normally residing in households in Ireland.  It does not include those residing in institutions such as prisons, residential care, nursing homes, hospitals etc.
  5. The questionnaires were administered through face-to-face interviews (with Computer Assisted Personal Interviews (CAPI)) with respondents.
  6. Fieldwork for the survey was carried out between October 2014 and May 2015 and the final achieved sample in Ireland was 7005.  The response rate for the survey was 61%.
  7. In Northern Ireland, the achieved sample was weighted by gender, age and Health and Social Care Trust area to maximise its representativeness of the population.
  8. Lifetime prevalence = respondent(s) had ever used a drug. Recent use = respondent(s) used drug in the year prior to the survey. Current use = respondent(s) used drug in the month prior to the survey
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