Irish drug users are near the top of the table for problems caused by ecstasy and alcohol, an international drug survey indicates.
And Irish cannabis users are above average for seeking medical help, according to Global Drug Survey 2016.
The survey, conducted among 100,000 drug users in more than 50 countries, reports a doubling in the number of Irish users buying chemicals off the darknet, or hidden internet, and a substantial increase in use of new psychoactive substances.
The GDS report flags particular concerns at the dangers posed by synthetic cannabis and high-dose ecstasy (MDMA) tablets.
The survey, which included a survey of 707 Irish users, found that 1.5% of Irish MDMA users sought emergency medical treatment in the last 12 months.
This was joint second highest out of the 23 main countries surveyed, just behind Belgium (1.6%).
The report expressed concern at “high-dose” MDMA pills, leading to “increased risk of acute harm”.
The research said: “2016 might be the worst time to start taking MDMA in a generation.
“In many countries, high- purity MDMA crystal now competes with high-dose MDMA pills. In many parts of Europe, the average dose of MDMA found in ecstasy pills is now 100-150mg/pill, with doses over 300mg having been reported.”
While no dosage level is safe for MDMA, the report estimates 80g is sufficient to provide its effects.
In relation to alcohol, Irish drinkers were second only to Mexican drinkers for wanting to consume less alcohol.
It said that 43% of Irish respondents wanted to drink less, and 14% said they would like help, placing us fourth.
“Ireland got stiff competition this year, when it came to which country has the highest proportion of people who wanted to drink less,” said the report.
In terms of “acute harms”, Ireland and Norway were second to Scotland.
Some 2.2% of the Irish and Norwegians reported seeking emergency medical treatment after drinking, compared to 2.4% of Scottish drinkers. These compared to an average of 1.1%.
The survey said 1.6% of Irish people who used cannabis in the last year had sought emergency medical treatment (average 1.2%).
The research expressed “surprise” at how many cannabis users sought help. It said in most cases, high potency cannabis was involved.
Some 37% of Irish users reported a preference for high potency cannabis, and 57% for normal weed.
Overall, the research said a third of users wanted to use less and that 10% were dependant.
The research found that new psychoactive substances (former head shop drugs) resulted in more medical emergencies (average 2.6%), with synthetic cannabis the worst (3.6%).
It estimated the risk of an emergency was 30 times greater after taking synthetic cannabis than natural cannabis.
It said that 5.6% of Irish users reported buying NPS in 2016 (about average), compared to 3.3% in 2015.
It said the number of Irish drug users purchasing substances on the darknet doubled between 2015 and 2016, from 5.2% to 10.9%.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved