Words: Emily Mullen
Health Officials have voiced concerns about the proliferation of the drugs
A report issued by the HSE raises a series of concerns about the purity and potency of MDMA and cocaine in Ireland. The strength of these substances were referred to in the newly launched Emerging Drug Trends and Drug Checking Working Group 2021 report as at an “all-time high”.
The report issued by HSE National Social Inclusion voiced concerns about the combination of the strength and the growth of these drugs in Ireland, citing it as a serious concern to public health.
District Magazine has been involved in the Emerging Drug Trends and Drug Checking Working Group since its inception in 2019. The Working Group drew on insights from those involved in nightlife culture, including District director Craig Connolly, who previously ran venues such as Hangar and was involved in publications like Four Four Magazine.
As part of the report that was prepared for the Minister of State on September 17, a series of recommendations were made to combat drug and alcohol use in Ireland. The group recommends a pilot drug checking service (“back of house”) for festivals, which would involve an analysis of drugs in circulation that would enable organisers to create an early warning and alert system for drug users.
Below are a series of key findings from the latest National Drug and Alcohol Survey for 2019/20:
*23% of the general Irish public had reported the lifetime use of any drug, while 7.4% reported recent or last year use and 4.1% stated more recent use occurring within the last month.
*The most common types of drugs used in Ireland amongst those surveyed were cannabis at 5.9%, ecstasy 2.2% and cocaine 1.9%.
*Rates of drug use are generally higher among certain groups such as LGBTI+ community and third-level students when compared to the general population.
*Findings suggest that males were more than twice as likely as females to report the use of any drug within the last year (10.2% compared to 4.7% of females), however, among the younger age group of 15 –24 years old, there was little difference reported between genders (20.6% males and 16.3% females) showing a diminishing gender gap among younger populations.
*Polydrug use which was defined as the use of at least two drugs on the same occasion (simultaneously) in the last year. Alcohol was the most cited substance used in combination with cannabis, cocaine, and ecstasy. The figures show a significant association between alcohol and cocaine patterns with 93.4% reporting the use of this
*There has been an 18% increase in drug-related treatments, with opioids (38.8%), cocaine (24%) and cannabis (23.5%) making up the highest portion of problem drugs.
*Treatments for stimulant drugs associated with nightlife such as MDMA and amphetamines “appear in much lower numbers” in 2020.
*Alcohol (96.9%), MDMA powder/crystals (84.49%), cocaine (81.8%), MDMA pills ‘ecstasy’ (80.3%), cannabis (71.5%) and ketamine (63.37%) were the highest drugs used by this cohort in festival settings.
Elsewhere on District: Top 10 Picks for Culture Night 2021