Words: Eva O’Beirne
Due to concerns around increased club drug use in Ireland, the HSE has launched a new campaign to inform the general public on drug tolerance and safe drug use.
After over a year of restrictions, it is an exciting time for people as nightlife reopens, albeit until midnight due to current restrictions.
Not everyone who socialises in nightlife settings will use drugs but for those who choose to, the HSE wants to raise awareness of the current risks and encourage people to reduce the harms. To highlight these concerns, the HSE has launched a new campaign ‘If you go, go slow’ aimed at people who use drugs in nightlife settings.
From a health perceptive the HSE are worried that some people may feel that they have to ‘make up’ for lost time which could lead to using substances in extra risky ways. There are concerns that people who took time off from using substances or first time users may be at greater risk.
The findings of the HSE’s ‘Emerging Drugs Trends Report Working Group Report 2021’, has shown the rise of stimulant and polydrug culture among new users. These findings have prompted the health service to supply numerous resources on Ireland’s drug market trends, mixing drugs and helplines for those struggling with substance use as part of the new campaign.
The HSE wishes to raise awareness around the emergence of new substances in MDMA in the UK, as well as synthetic cannabinoids in cannabis products. The health service has issued a reminder to those taking drugs to look after themselves and others on nights out.
The campaign was launched on October 22 with a panel discussion featuring key stakeholders in the event and nightlife industry. The panellists included Nicki Killeen, HSE National Social Inclusion Office, Sophie Ridley, event safety coordinator, Robbie Kitt, musican and DJ, Somhairle Brennan, the Union of Students in Ireland’s Welfare Officer and Craig Connolly, director at District.
Topics discussed by the panel included the Irish nightlife scene with a focus on the current drug landscape, the return of nightlife, trends of concern such as increasing levels of poly use and the importance of collaboration between the health and events sectors.
Dr Eamon Keenan, HSE’s National Clinical Lead-Addiction Services, said at the launch: “For some time, the topic of substance use in the context of nightlife settings has received little attention in research, policy and practice. The proliferation of stimulant drugs in Ireland is occurring during a period when increased purity and potency of substances is a cause of concern for health services.”
“Our report identifies a need to improve research and develop new services in response to these trends. Nightlife outreach and drug analysis are recognised ways in which we can engage with young, hard to reach populations. This campaign is an important step forward to improving the provision of information and support to young people to minimise the harms to their health.”
As part of the campaign, the HSE has also launched a video series titled ‘View from the Booth’ which showcases Irish DJs and their views on increased club drug use in Ireland. The videos involve Aidan Thompson, Robbie Kitt and Kasey Keating Brady who touch on the topic of nightlife returning, reduced drug tolerance, mental health, peer influence and mixing drugs.
If you are concerned about your own or someone else’s substance use, contact the HSE Drug and Alcohol Helpline on 1800 459 459 Monday – Friday 9:30 am – 5:30 pm or email firstname.lastname@example.org.