menu ☰
menu ˟

Rise in use of opiates

21 Nov 2016

New survey findings expose continuing need for preventative measures under National Drugs Strategy that focus on young people, taking account of the gendered nature of substance use, writes Gary Culliton

A total of 43.4 per cent of adults in Ireland have used “other opiates” in the past year. One-fifth have used them in the last year and 61.5 per cent have used them at some point in their lifetime, according to a new drug use survey launched by Minister with responsibility for the National Drugs Strategy Catherine Byrne.

There was a significant increase between 2010/11 to 2014/15 in the proportion of respondents who had taken other opiates, the survey found.

The ‘Prevalence of drug use and gambling in Ireland and drug use in Northern Ireland’ report found significant prevalence increases in last-month use of cannabis (2.8% to 4.4%) and ecstasy (0.1% to 1%). Last-year use of new psychoactive substances declined significantly from 3.5 to 0.8 per cent. This follows legislative changes.

Significant rise

The 2014/15 survey reveals that levels of recent and current illegal drug use has risen. Men and those aged 15 to 24 have the highest recent use of illegal drugs.

The report was published by the National Advisory Committee on Drugs and Alcohol (NACDA) and the Public Health Information and Research Branch of the Department of Health in Northern Ireland.

Minister Byrne said: “These new survey findings suggest that there is a continuing need for preventative measures under the National Drugs Strategy that focus on young people, particularly young men, their families and communities and that take account of the gendered nature of substance use.”

“It is significant that the level of recent and current drug use has risen between 2010/11 and 2014/15 for all illegal drugs,” said Prof Catherine Comiskey, Chair of the NACDA.

The overall prevalence rate for last-year use of any illegal drug was 8.9 per cent in 2014/15 — compared with 7 per cent in 2010/11. Cannabis continues to be the most commonly used illegal drug, with 27.9 per cent of respondents aged 15 to 64 having ever used the drug, 7.7 per cent reported having used cannabis in the last year and 4.4 per cent in the last month.

The key finding of the report is that levels of illegal drug use have risen in Ireland between 2010/11 and 2014/15. The survey found that lifetime, last-year and last-month prevalence of ecstasy had increased significantly since 2010/11, with 4.4 per cent of 15 to 34 year olds reporting use of ecstasy in the last year compared to 0.9 per cent in 2010/11. In the 25-34 year old age group, 22.7 per cent of males and 10.4 per cent of females report having ever used ecstasy.

General population

The population survey is a drug prevalence survey and is intended to reflect drug use in the general population older than 15. It does not include those residing in institutions such as prisons, residential care, nursing homes and hospitals.

Almost a quarter of respondents (24%) reported ever taking anti-depressants, while in excess of a fifth reported taking other opiates (22%) and sedatives or tranquillisers (21%). There was an increase in use of anti-depressants in terms of both last-year and last-month prevalence.

Lifetime usage of cocaine (including crack) and cocaine powder were calculated at 6.6 per cent and 6.4 per cent respectively. A total of 7.5 per cent of adults had used an illegal drug in the past 12 months. As with lifetime prevalence, usage of cannabis (6.5%) is far higher than any other drug, with ecstasy (1.8%), cocaine (including crack) (1.3%) and cocaine powder (1.2%) more commonly used than other forms of illegal drugs.

One-in-four males aged 15 to 24 reported using an illegal drug in the last year and one-in-five males aged 25 to 34 reported using an illegal drug in the same period. In all, one-in-eight females aged 15 to 24 reported using an illegal drug. A total of 4.0 per cent of all people aged older than 15 had used an illegal drug in the past month — equating to more than half of those who had done so in the previous 12 months. Again, cannabis is the most commonly used illegal drug with 3.7 per cent using this within the past month.

More than six-in-10 (62.1%) Irish adults had consumed alcohol in the past month, with past-year and lifetime usage at 77.0 and 82.8 per cent respectively. Just above a quarter (25.1%) had smoked a tobacco product in the past month, with twice as many (50.9%) having done so at some stage during their life.

Gambling

Prevalence of gambling in Ireland was included in the survey for the first time. Results indicate that 64.5 per cent of respondents aged 15 or older reported gambling in the 12 months prior to the survey and 41.4 per cent of respondents reported gambling in the 30 days prior to the survey.

The post Rise in use of opiates appeared first on Irish Medical Times.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in Irish Medical Times