Cannabis is most commonly used drug - report
Drug use in Ireland is becoming an increasing problem outside cities, with cannabis by far the most common drug used, a new report reveals.
he figures are from the Drug Prevalence Survey, commissioned jointly by the National Advisory Committee on Drugs (NACD) and the Drug and Alcohol Information and Research Unit (DAIRU) in Northern Ireland.
The survey was carried out by MORI MRC in face-to-face interviews among the 15-64 age group. Almost 8,500 people were interviewed.
It found that lifetime illegal drug prevalence, i.e. the number of people who had ever used an illegal drug, was between 11 per cent and 29 per cent across all areas. Cannabis was the main illegal drug consumed, with rates at least twice as high as for other illegal drugs.
The highest rate for the recent use of ecstasy and cocaine was 3 per cent and 2 per cent respectively, compared to 8 per cent for cannabis.
The lowest rate of recent illegal drug use was in the North Western Health Board area (3 per cent). The highest was in the Northern Area Health Board (8 per cent).
In almost all areas, drug use was higher amongst men than women and higher among young people than older people.
Dr Mary Ellen McCann, vice chairperson of the NACD, said the key findings show that cannabis is the most widely used illegal drug.
"In addition, in almost all health board areas cannabis use is higher among young adults (15-34) than older adults (35-64). The research indicates that in general, men report higher prevalence rates of drug use than women. And, on a regional basis, drug prevalence rates are higher in the Eastern part of the country."
Welcoming the report, the Minister of State for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Mr Noel Ahern, said the survey provided the Government with "excellent baseline information" on drug prevalence that would be useful in the context of the ongoing implementation of the National Drugs Strategy.
He said the results highlighted that drug use is not confined to major cities.
"Drug use is an issue for communities, both urban and rural, throughout the country and the Government are determined to tackle it at every level. The information contained in this bulletin is particularly timely, as the mid-term review of the National Drug Strategy will take place later this year."