As universities open once more and college life returns to normal, An Garda Síochána have launched their “Rise above the influence” campaign.
The campaign is aimed at raising awareness, particularly among first year students, to the dangers of taking illegal substances.
During 2020, approximately 1,900 people between the ages of 18 to 24 entered drug treatment, according to a press release from An Garda Síochána. Over half of these were addicted to more than one substance.
DCU Students’ Union Vice President for Welfare and Equality Dean O’ Reilly spoke to The College View:
“Drug-use is more commonplace amongst students than people realise,” he said.
“Rather than demonizing it, we need to treat drug use as a public health concern rather than a criminal concern. As an SU, we provide harm reduction information and assistance to students who need it. We would always encourage refraining from drug use.”
However, the VP for Welfare also acknowledged the pressures potentially facing students around drug use when it comes to socialising.
“There’s a lot of pressure when you first start out in a new social circle,” he admitted.
“Pressure doesn’t just mean someone verbally saying ‘do this.’ It’s also the pressure you feel to not stick out. ‘Well, if everyone is doing this, I guess I will. It seems fine’. My best advice is that you don’t need to do anything you don’t want to. That comes to everything, really. I promise you, friendships built on making yourself smaller or more appeasing to things you don’t like are not ones that last – it’s not worth it,” said O’Reilly.
“I was sober for all 4 years of my degree. I won’t lie, sometimes it was hard for me. Sometimes I felt I was missing out on X, Y, Z. But, at the end of it, the friends I did make, and the activities I did participate in, were ones I actually wanted. That’s what matters.” he added.
Students who are concerned about drug use can contact the Students’ Union, the Student Advice Centre or visit drugs.ie to better inform themselves.
“Our ‘Rise above the influence’ message is simple. Your future is in your hands. Seek out positive influences on Campus. Choose the influences which will enhance your future career. Make responsible decisions for yourself and be aware of those around you. Don’t become another victim of the drug trade,” said Detective Superintendent Sé McCormack of the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau in a press release.
Kasey Leigh McCrudden.
Image Credit: The Irish Times