A report from the Drug Use in Higher Education Institution (DUHEI) over half of the college students surveyed use illegal drugs.
The DUHEI surveyed over 11,500 undergraduate and postgraduate students (all aged 18 and over) to evaluate drug use among the college student population in Ireland.
The report notes “over half of participants reported using an illicit drug, with over one-third reporting drug use in the last year”.
More than half of the participating students asked stated “drug use is a normal part of student life”, but the majority of students “also felt drug use has a somewhat negative or an extremely negative impact on student life”.
The survey also addressed the most common illegal drug types as noted in order: cannabis (52%), cocaine (25%), ecstasy (23%), ketamine (16%), mushrooms (12%), amphetamines (9%) and New Psychoactive Substances (8%).
While the list demonstrates a familiar pattern or commonality, the survey also found “four [out] of ten current drug users reported using two or more drugs on the same occasion”.
Overall cannabis is the most common drug used, with many surveyed students reporting first trying it between the ages of 16-18 years old.
However one in four students have noted using cannabis from less than 16 years old.
With the data presenting the increased use and influence of such drugs the study also dedicated a segment to changing drug use patterns and behaviour among those surveyed.
With one in two drug users stating they would not like to limit or reduce their drug habits, but one in three drug users noted they had tried to limit their drug use.
The study found for the majority the least helpful intervention to drug reduction was education, while counselling was
the preferred method to reduce drug use and harm overall.
With counselling being the preferred assistance, the study found of those students surveyed four out of ten reported low levels of wellbeing.
Dr Claire Bohan, Director of DCU Student Support and Development was glad that new data was available on the topic.
“The DUHEI Survey results greatly support DCU and other institutions to understand what trends are emerging around drug use in our student populations. This will be of great help as we continue to build a healthy environment for our students and staff to thrive in. While we strongly discourage drug use, we are also very mindful that students can find themselves in a lonely place if their drug use becomes a problem – and strongly encourage them to come forward to the support services for help, with absolute re-assurance that their situation will be kept entirely confidential and we will do everything we can to get them the help they may need,” she told the College View.
While drug use is higher compared to previous years and more than half of the students surveyed use or have used drugs, the reports of those who don’t use drugs presents a different outlook to what is previously reported.
With one in three males stating they never used drugs and one in two females have also never used drugs.
From the students who stated not taking drugs, it was found three out of four students simply have no interest or need for drug use, while six out of ten students refuse to take drugs to protect their mental and physical health.
The DUHEI survey clearly presents an increase to drug influence and exposure among college students over the last two years.
The study also found “one in ten participants reported using drugs for the first time since COVID-19 began.”
Reasons given for using drugs for the first time since 12th March 2020 were :boredom 33.7%, loss of daily structure 16.9%, loneliness 12.3%, increased tension with family or work 10.8%, and a lack of sports or activities 10.2%.
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