Press Release

Minister Byrne welcomes the release of the Regional Results of the 2014/15 Drugs Survey

Minister for Communities and the National Drugs Strategy, Catherine Byrne, TD, today welcomed the release of the regional results of the 2014/15 Drug Prevalence Survey. The new Bulletin presents the key findings at a local level from the fourth drug prevalence survey of households by Regional Drug and Alcohol Task Force (RDATF) in Ireland and Health and Social Care Trust (HSCT) in Northern Ireland. It provides a breakdown of prevalence rates by region for illegal drugs, tobacco, alcohol, sedatives, tranquillisers and anti-depressants and gambling.

The Bulletin indicates that recent and current levels of illegal drug use increased in most Regional Drug and Alcohol Task Force (RDATF) areas between 2010/11 and 2014/15. It also found that cannabis was the most frequently used illegal drug in all RDATF areas in the year prior to the survey and that, after cannabis, ecstasy and cocaine were the most frequently reported illegal drugs for recent use.

The Chair of the NACDA, Professor Catherine Comiskey, stated: “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 the 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”.

In welcoming the bulletin, Minister Byrne commented, “The results of the 2014/15 Drug Prevalence Survey will help to strengthen the evidence base of the new National Drugs Strategy. I understand that the Steering Committee established to oversee that process is at the final stage of its deliberations. I expect to receive its final report by the end of March and I hope to bring my proposals to Government on the new Strategy after that.”

Notes For Editors

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

 

Survey Methodology

The general population survey 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. On this occasion, the fieldwork was carried out by IPSOS MRBI in Ireland. This survey updates information gathered in the previous surveys carried out in 2002/03, 2006/07 and 2010/11. This survey was carried out to the exacting standards set by the EU Drugs Agency (the EMCDDA).

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 or hospitals. 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%.

The main findings of the Bulletin, which is available on www.nacda.ie, are:

 

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).