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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.

Drug Use in Ireland and Northern Ireland 2010/2011 Drug Prevalence Survey: Polydrug Use Bulletin

The National Advisory Committee on Drugs and Alcohol (NACDA) today (24th June 2014) launched the Drug Use in Ireland and Northern Ireland 2010/2011 Drug Prevalence Survey: Polydrug Use Bulletin

This bulletin is the last in the current series of bulletins which arise from the data collected in the 2010/11 Drug Prevalence Survey.  It presents prevalence rates regarding current polydrug use; that is, the use of more than one substance within the last month (last 30 days), in Ireland for 2010/11.  These polydrug use prevalence rates include combinations of both legal and illegal drug use.  In addition, the bulletin also examines gender and age differences and the relationship between the use of a particular substance and the use of another substance.  

Dr Orla Dempsey, who carried out the analysis of this data for the NACDA, noted that twenty percent of all adults aged 15-64 in Ireland had not used any substance (legal or illegal) in the month prior to the survey. 

Polydrug use is associated with a number of negative consequences including mental and physical ill-health, violence, aggression and a range of social problems. Polydrug use is more likely to result in accidents and death (including death from overdose) than when a single substance is consumed.

There is evidence that polydrug use is common among people seeking drug treatment.  Polydrug use is more complex to treat, requiring services that can treat both alcohol and other drug dependence while providing a broad range of interventions, and is associated with poorer treatment outcomes

The survey found that the largest proportion of respondents (39%) had consumed alcohol only; the most frequently reported combination of polydrug use involved the two most familiar substances, alcohol and tobacco (16%).  Since 2006/7 there has been a statistically significant decrease in the use of tobacco among users of alcohol.

Among all adults, the prevalence of polydrug use which included any illegal drug was 3% during the month prior to the survey. 

The bulletin reports on some statistically significant differences in prevalence rates of polydrug use among men and women and among young and older adults.  Last month prevalence of alcohol and tobacco use was higher among men (20%) than women (13%) and among young adults than older adults (18% vs. 15% respectively) and last month prevalence of alcohol, tobacco, and any illegal drug was higher among men (3%) than women (0.4%) and among young adults (3%) than older adults (1%).

Analysis of the relationship between the use of one substance and the use of another, indicated that during the month prior to the survey

  • • Of those who had smoked tobacco, 78% had also used alcohol
  • • Of those who had used cannabis, 85% had also used alcohol and 77% had also smoked tobacco
  • • Users of cannabis, users of amphetamine-type stimulants and users of cocaine were likely to have used other legal as well as illegal substances
  • • Users of sedatives or tranquillisers and users of anti-depressants were likely to have used other legal substances.
  • • Among users of alcohol males were more likely than females to have also used cannabis
  • • Among users of alcohol females were more likely than males to have also used anti-depressants
  • • Since 2006/7 there have been statistically significant decreases in the use of tobacco among users of alcohol; the use of tobacco among users of cannabis and the use of alcohol among users of tobacco. Findings were similar for men and young adults

ENDS

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