Sharp rise in ecstasy and cannabis use as alcohol sales increase

Ecstasy and cannabis use is rising sharply in many parts of the country, particularly among young people, regional figures from a national drugs survey show, writes Cormac O'Keeffe.

Separate data from the Revenue Commissioners indicate a rise in alcohol consumption with increases of between 4% and 9% in excise duty paid on alcohol in 2016.

The National Drug Prevalence Study shows that current use of cannabis and ecstasy has doubled, or more, among young people in six out of the 10 regions.

The survey also highlights significant increases in the use of anti-depressants in many regions, noticeably among females.

The study detected a significant drop in all regions in the use of new psychoactive substances.

In half of the regions, around one in 10 young people aged 15 to 34 are currently using cannabis (within the last month).

Details from the prevalence study, conducted in 2014/2015 by the National Advisory Committee on Drugs and Alcohol, show:

Significant increases in recent (last year) and current use of cannabis, ecstasy, and sedatives among young adults in the east coast region — including a doubling in current cannabis and ecstasy rates;

Major increases in lifetime, recent, and current use of cannabis and ecstasy in the midlands region — with a doubling in current use of cannabis and a trebling in current ecstasy use among young people;

Huge increases in lifetime, recent, and current use of cannabis, ecstasy, and cocaine in the north east region — including a four-fold jump in current cannabis use.

Major increases in recent cannabis and ecstasy use in the north west region — and a significant rise in current cannabis use (trebling among young people);

Significant rise in current cannabis use (doubling to 13%) and ecstasy use (almost six-fold increase) among young people in the south western region (incorporating parts of Dublin, Kildare, and Wicklow);

A major increase in recent and current use of cannabis and ecstasy in the western region, including an eight-fold jump in current cannabis use among young people.

A number of other regions recorded either slight increases, stable use or decreases (such as mid-west).

Separate Revenue figures for 2016 on ‘clearance’ data — quantities of alcohol on which excise duty is paid — found that levels of spirits rose 8.9%, cider by 8.6%, wine by 6.2%, and beer by 3.7%.

Analysing the data, Alcohol Action Ireland said this translated to a 4.8% rise in per capital alcohol consumption last year.

This article first appeared in the Irish Examiner.


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