UCC study: 78,000 third-level students took drugs recently

The report which is the first national, in-depth, representative study of drug use among students in higher education in Ireland found “worrying trends”, particularly in relation to the use of cocaine.
UCC study: 78,000 third-level students took drugs recently

UCC says the findings from the study provide much-needed insights into the drug use trends and behaviours of students. Picture: iStock

78,000 students are recent or current drug users in Ireland, a University College Cork (UCC) study has found.

The report which is the first national, in-depth, representative study of drug use among students in higher education in Ireland found “worrying trends”, particularly in relation to the use of cocaine.

UCC says the findings from the study provide much-needed insights into the drug use trends and behaviours of students.

Of the 11,592 respondents, just over half felt drug use is a normal part of student life, however, just over half also felt that drug use has a somewhat negative, or an extremely negative impact on student life.

The majority of students reported that their main reason for using most drugs was “to have fun”, however many current users report using cannabis “to relax”.

The recently published Drug Use in Higher Education in Ireland (DUHEI) Report was the focus of a summit of students, politicians, academics, and support staff hosted by UCC on Monday where stakeholders gathered to consider the findings and discuss the recommendations of the report.

Recommendations

Among the recommendations are the need for Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) to embed actions on drugs and alcohol within their Healthy Campus initiatives and for surveys on student drug use to be taken at five-year intervals to monitor trends in drug use prevalence, attitudes, and behaviours amongst students in Ireland.

Speaking of the challenges involved in addressing this issue, Dr Michael Byrne, Head of the Student Health Service in University College Cork and lead author of the report said: “The data contained in this report highlight the importance of addressing the issue of drug use amongst our students, and the need to focus on trying to reduce the harms that some experience. The challenges in tackling this issue are considerable, not least the difficulty in providing services that are accessible to the students, that can be provided on a large scale, and which make sense to them.”

Ms Asha Woodhouse, president of UCC Students’ Union, welcomed the opportunity to discuss the report and said the findings highlight “the need for public health messaging, tailored supports, and harm reduction interventions for students who use drugs.

“We hope to see this report and its important recommendations used to inform policies and to implement response plans in HEIs nationally.”

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