DIT lobbies for new attitude on drug addiction

VP for Welfare DITSU Tara O'Brien finds the "Just Say No" approach to drugs ineffective. Image Credit: College Crime Watch

DIT hosted an ‘Addiction Awareness’ campaign this month to get students talking and thinking about addiction and change the way it is perceived by the public.

The campaign was put together by VP for Welfare at DITSU, Tara O’Brien, who believes that the long-established “Just Say No” attitude towards drugs is not effective.

This attitude has been echoed by other drug safety organisations such as Help not Harm and Students for a Sensible Drug Policy.

A 2015 study conducted by the National Student Drug Survey revealed that 82 per cent of Irish third level institution students have tried drugs, only 6 per cent attributing their usage to peer pressure, further showing that the “Just Say No” attitude is only applicable to a small group of people.

The study surveyed 3,000 students from all Irish colleges and universities. Other reasons provided by students for drug usage included curiosity (27 per cent) and “switching off” (19 per cent).

“The way I see it, the ‘just say no’ approach doesn’t work; you can’t tell people what to do. It’s not to tell people do or don’t do drugs, do or don’t have a pint, don’t be buying scratch cards, etc,” said O’Brien in an interview with Campus.ie. “Do what you want but just know your boundaries.”

O’Brien went on to make a point about all the forms drug addiction can take, including legal vices such as tobacco and alcohol. Whether it be a cigarette, or an illegal substance, it is an addiction all the same.

This newer approach to drug education has also been represented by TCD’s and UCD’s Student Unions who teamed up with DIT and the Ana Liffey Drug Project in past years in a campaigning for safer drug use among students.

While DCU does have a Students for Sensible Drug Policy society that provides a platform for students to discuss drug policy and its effects on our society, there has yet to be a Drug Awareness/Addiction Week or event similar to that of DIT’s.

DCU has put on Alcohol Awareness weeks in years past, but illegal drugs have been treated as a separate issue and the zero-tolerance policy still remains.

Kyle Ewald

Image Credit: College Crime Watch