Press Release

The NACDA launched the Drug Use in Ireland and Northern Ireland 2010/2011 Drug Prevalence Survey: Polydrug Use Bulletin

NACDAThe 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

View the Bulletin here

ENDS

Notes to the EditorĀ 

This bulletin is one of a series of seven arising from the NACDA 2010/11 Drug Use in Ireland and Northern Ireland: Prevalence Survey. The survey is jointly undertaken between the National Advisory Committee on Drug and Alcohol and the Public Health Information and Research Branch of the Department of Health, Social Services & Public Safety in Northern Ireland and measures the prevalence of key illegal drugs as well as alcohol, tobacco and other drugs including tranquillisers and anti-depressants.

Fieldwork was carried out between October 2010 and May 2011 and the final sample comprised 7,669 respondents (5,134 in Ireland and 2,535 in Northern Ireland).

The 2010/11 Survey is the third drug prevalence survey taken for the island of Ireland. While earlier surveys included questions on alcohol consumption, 2010/11 marks the first time a comprehensive series of questions on both the rates and patterns of alcohol consumption in Ireland and on alcohol related harm have been included.

Lifetime prevalence is a cumulative measure of the total number of people who have ever tried drugs and includes many who have done so in the past. While valuable for other purposes, lifetime prevalence is not ideal for monitoring drug use prevalence in the general population. Recent or current levels of drug use as measured in the last year or last month are more appropriate indicators

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 15-64 and normally residing in households in Ireland and Northern Ireland. It does not include those residing in institutions such as prisons, residential care, nursing homes, hospitals etc, hence the term general population.

The NACDA is currently undertaking research to repeat the drug prevalence survey.

About the NACDA

The NACD was established in July 2000 to advise the Irish Government in relation to the prevalence, prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and consequences of problem drug use in Ireland, based on the analysis of research findings and other information available to it. The NACDA is overseeing the delivery of a work programme on the extent, nature, causes and effects of drug use in Ireland.

The National Advisory Committee on Drugs (NACD) was reconstituted for the period until the end of 2016, in line with the timescale of the National Drugs Strategy. The remit of the Committee was extended to incorporate alcohol as well as drugs and, to reflect this, is known as the National Advisory Committee on Drugs and Alcohol (NACDA).

The role of the new committee is to advise Government on the prevalence, prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and consequences of substance use and misuse in Ireland, based on the analysis of research findings and information available to it.

The NACDA comprises representatives nominated from relevant agencies and sectors, both statutory and non-statutory. The NACDA reports to the Minister of State responsible for the National Drugs Strategy.

Hawkins House, Dublin 2 Tel 353 01 6354283 E mail nacda@nacda.ie www.nacda.ie