The Union of Students of Ireland in partnership with Drugs.ie and the HSE have launched a new harm reduction information campaign aimed at people who use new psychoactive substances (NSP)*. The use of psychoactive drugs in Ireland among the 15-24 year age group is the highest in Europe (22% lifetime use). The recently released European Schools Survey Project on Alcohol and other Drugs (ESPAD) from 2015 indicated that among 15-16 year olds across 35 European countries the average lifetime use was 4% while in Ireland it was almost double at 7%.
Data suggests that the purity or potency of most illicit substances is increasing and that the market for substances is becoming more varied and accessible. This phase of the campaign focuses on two specific drugs MMDA (ecstasy) and Ketamine (K); two harm reduction posters have been designed to give harm reduction advice and information on accessing support.
“USI is delighted to be working closely with the HSE and Drugs.ie on this harm reduction campaign.” Annie Hoey, USI President, said. “Ongoing use of a variety of substances by young people and students has rightly attracted attention and concern due to the significant number of physical and psychological side effects associated with their use. As such, it’s important for us to ensure that students’ relationship with substances is as safe as possible. Taking illegal and unknown substances is unsafe. We are urging students to be vigilant against unknown substances, and if anyone decides to take drugs, following a harm reduction regime is crucial.”
Dr. Eamon Keenan HSE National Clinical Lead for Addiction services said – “The HSE is partnering with the Union of Students in Ireland to target students and young people with an appropriate Harm Reduction message. It is always safer not to use illegal drugs and we advise people not to use, however we have a duty to reduce harm and protect young peoples’ health. The key messages that we need to get to people is to Stay Safe and to be aware of the strength of the drugs they are taking. There is information, support and help available through www.drugs.ie or the Drugs Helpline.”
The campaign was launched by Minister Catherine Byrne in the Institute of Technology Tallaght and is the first step of an ongoing campaign to provide harm reduction information for students.
HSE Drug/Alcohol helpline Freephone: 1800 459 459 9.30am – 5.30pm Monday – Friday
Email support: firstname.lastname@example.org
*New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) are a range of drugs that have been designed to mimic established illicit drugs, such as cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy and LSD. Manufacturers of these drugs develop new chemicals to replace those that are banned, which means that the chemical structures of the drugs are constantly changing to try to stay ahead of the law. NPS are being developed at an unprecedented rate; their strengths & ingredients are undefined and the effects can be catastrophic for some people.
Copies of the new posters area available on www.drugs.ie It is important to remember that if you have physical or mental health problems such as epilepsy, heart problems, asthma, depression, panic or anxiety attacks drug use is more risky. You are advised not to use. It’s always safer not to use illegal drugs.