Minister backs ‘half-a-pill’ student campaign

Drugs minister Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has backed a harm reduction campaign which advises students it is less risky to take half an ecstasy tablet than a full one and never to mix drugs.

The minister of state said the campaign was dealing with the “reality” of young people’s lives.

The What’s In the Pill? initiative is run by the students unions of Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, and Dublin Institute of Technology, along with the Ana Liffey Drug Project.

A campaign poster advises students that it is “always safest not to take unknown or illicit drugs at all” — but that if they do take a pill:

  • It is less risky to take half a pill “although smaller doses can also be dangerous”;
  • If you don’t come up (feel the effects) as quickly as expected don’t assume the pills are dud. Wait two hours as some drugs take longer;
  • Never double drop (take two pills at once);
  • Never mix your drugs (including alcohol) as they can interact dangerously;
  • If dancing, rehydrate gradually with water or isotonic drinks and take breaks.

“This campaign is part of a wider conversation about the reality of drugs,” said Mr Ó Ríordáin at the launch. “You are dealing with reality and dealing with young people where they are.”

Conor Clancy, welfare officer at TCD, said that the campaign “recognises that drug use is happening”, but provides factual information which could “save lives and prevent harm”.

Clare O’Connor, UCD welfare officer, said: “It’s always safest not to take, but some students will and we are trying to look after those.”

And DIT welfare officer Lysette Golden said “educating people saves lives” and that they hoped to “break the silence” on the issue.

Tony Duffin of Ana Liffey Drug Project said they don’t want people to take risks, but if they do they wanted them “to be careful”, as there have been hospitalisations and deaths from taking pills.

The campaign refers to a number of deaths in 2014 related to PMMA, an amphetamine contained in tablets sold as ecstasy.

There have also been deaths involving pure ecstasy (MDMA), including Ana Hick, aged 18, who died at a Dublin nightclub last May.

There have been a few deaths over the last 25 years of users dying after taking half a tablet — often caused by an individual susceptibility to ecstasy chemicals.

The new campaign is similar to initiatives in Dublin in the 1990s, which also trained nightclub staff.

  • drugs.ie


More in this Section

No Government jet for freed Halawa

Garda officers may sue for right to strike

Rail unions vote for industrial action

‘We are on our knees after this ... we need help’


Breaking Stories

Cork County Council place flood barriers, warn of likely road closure

No 'budget bounce' as Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil slip in opinion polls

The Lotto results are in

Here's the weather outlook following Storm Brian

Lifestyle

A helicopter put a piano on the 150-foot roof of Blarney Castle and other stories from the Cork Jazz Festival archives

Jazz Memories: Famous faces share their favourite moments

Live music review: The Horrors - Icy genius in a thrillingly intimate setting

New book revisits the games they just don't make anymore

More From The Irish Examiner