HRB Factsheet January 2017 – Alcohol: the Irish situation

Factsheet- Alcohol: the Irish situation

January 2017


What does alcohol do?

Alcohol is a psychoactive substance with dependence-producing properties. Consumption of alcohol and problems related to alcohol vary widely around the world, but the burden of disease and death remains significant in most countries. The harmful use of alcohol ranks among the top five risk factors for disease, disability and death throughout the world. Drinking alcohol is associated with a risk of developing such health problems as alcohol dependence, liver cirrhosis, cancers and injuries.

What is a standard drink in Ireland?

The standard drink in Ireland is 10 grams of pure alcohol.
Below are some examples of a standard drink.

  • A pub measure of spirits (35.5ml)
  • A half pint of normal beer
  • An alcopop (275ml bottle)
  • A small glass of wine (12.5% volume)

A bottle of wine at 12.5% alcohol contains about seven standard drinks.

What are the low-risk drinking guidelines in Ireland?

Low risk weekly guidelines for adults are:

  • up to 11 standard drinks in a week for women, and
  • up to 17 standard drinks in a week for men.

See more at Health Service Executive.

How dow we know how many people use alcohol in Ireland?

Every four years the National Advisory Committee on Drugs and Alcohol (NACDA) and the Northern Ireland Public Health Information and Research Branch (PHIRB) commission a survey of the general population to estimate the number of people in Ireland who use drugs and alcohol.2 Face-to-face interviews take place with respondents aged 15+a normally resident in households in Ireland and Northern Ireland. This type of survey is not designed to include people who do not normally live in private households (such as prisoners or hostel dwellers).

How much alcohol do Irish people consume?

The 2014/15 survey involved 9,505 people (7,005 in Ireland and 2,500 in Northern Ireland). The latest survey estimates show a decrease in the lifetime, last year and last month prevalence of alcohol use in the general population:

Table 1: Lifetime, last year and last month prevalence of alcohol use in the general population

The results for Ireland showed that:

  • 62.1% of Irish adults have consumed alcohol in the past month, with past year and lifetime usage at 77% and 82.8% respectively.
  • Lifetime (89.2%) and past year (83.3%) usage of alcohol is highest amongst those aged 35 to 44.
  • Last year use of alcohol is highest amongst males aged 25-34 years (86.4%) and females aged 35-44 years (81.7%).
  • Males across all age groups report higher last month usage of alcohol when compared to females within the same age range.

How much alcohol do Irish 15-16 year old students consume?

The European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD) has conducted surveys of school-going children every four years since 1995, using a standardised method and a common questionnaire (see www.espad.org ) including questions on alcohol, tobacco and illicit drug use. The sixth survey was conducted in 36 European countries during 2014/15.3 1,400 Irish students took part in this latest survey.
Of these

  • 74% of students have tried alcohol, with more girls (75%) than boys (72%) having done so.
  • Beer was by far the most popular drink, with 29% of students having had it in the last 30 days.
  • 28% of students had engaged in binge-drinking in the past month.
  • More girls than boys drink for mood lifting reasons, and drinking to fit in was the least popular reason reported among boys and girls.
  • Boys (7.8%, n=35) were more likely to engage in drunk driving than girls (1.1%, n=5).
  • Far more students with F grades were current drinkers (60%) than those with A grades (21%).
  • 11% of students who had no friends who used alcohol were current drinkers, compared with 69% of students who said that all their friends drink.

Table 1: Alcohol use in the last 30 days since 2003 among 15-16-year-olds in Ireland

Health-related harms

In Ireland, the Hospital In-Patient Enquiry (HIPE) scheme collects data on discharges (including deaths) from acute Irish hospitals.

All alcohol-related discharges, either wholly attributable (alcohol is a necessary cause for these conditions to manifest) or partially attributable (alcohol must be a component cause), were analysed. The number of people discharged from hospital whose condition was wholly attributable to alcohol rose by 82% between 1995 and 2013, from 9,420 to 17,120. Males accounted for 72% of these discharges and females 28%.

There has also been a steady increase in the average length of stay for hospital discharges associated with alcohol, from 6.0 days in 1995 to 10. days in 2013, which suggests that patients with alcohol-related diagnoses are becoming more complex in terms of their illness. Alcoholic liver disease (ALD) was the most common chronic alcohol disease, accounting for approximately four-fifths of all alcohol-related chronic diseases in 2013. The rate of discharges with ALD increased from 28.3 per 100,000 adults aged 15 years and over in 1995 to 87.7 in 2013, an increase of 210%.

Analysis of data from the National Cancer Registry of Ireland found that between 2001 and 2010, of the 24,995 cases of breast cancer, 3,058 (12.2%) were attributable to alcohol. Of the 6,601 women who died of breast cancer, 695 (10.5%) cases were attributable to alcohol.

The National Registry of Deliberate Self-Harm is a national system of population monitoring for the occurrence of deliberate self-harm, established by the National Suicide Research Foundation. In 2015, Alcohol was involved in just over one third of all cases (31%), a slight decrease from 2014.. Alcohol was more involved in male episodes of self-harm than female episodes (34% versus 29%, respectively).

How many people receive treatment for alcohol us?

The National Drug Treatment Reporting System (NDTRS) provides data on treated drug and alcohol misuse in Ireland. The National Psychiatric Inpatient Reporting System (NPIRS) provides detailed information on all admissions and discharges to inpatient psychiatric services in Ireland.

The most recent published data from the NDTRS shows that the number of cases entering treatment who reported alcohol as their main problem drug decreased from 8,604 in 2009 to 7,541 in 2014 (-12%).
Of the 7,451 cases in 2014 who reported alcohol as their main problem drug:

  • 163 (2%) were aged under 18 years; 2,467 (33%) were aged 18–34; 2,035 (27%) were aged 35–44; and 2,542 (33%) were aged 45–64 and 237 were aged over 65 (3.2%).
  • 3,674 (48%) were new cases.
  • 1,688 (22%) lived in Dublin.
  • 4,757 (63%) were men.
  • 1,395 (18%) used alcohol with other drugs.

There has been a considerable decrease in the numbers admitted to psychiatric hospitals for alcohol treatment. The total number of people admitted to psychiatric hospitals with an alcoholic diagnosis decreased by 46.9% between 2006 and 2015, i.e. from 2,767 to 1,188.

How many people die from using alcohol?

The National Drug-Related Deaths Index (NDRDI) is a database which records cases of death by drug and alcohol poisoning, deaths among drug users and those who are alcohol dependent.
Alcohol was involved in 115 deaths (32% of all poisonings) in 2014, more than any other substance. 59% of deaths where alcohol was implicated involved other drugs (poly-drug poisonings), mainly opiates. Alcohol alone was responsible for 13% of all poisoning deaths. The number of deaths involving alcohol has decreased from 140 in 2013 to 115 in 2014.

What impact has alcohol on the Irish economy?

According to the report Overview of alcohol consumption, alcohol-related harm and alcohol policy in Ireland:

  • In 2013, alcohol-related discharges accounted for 160,211 bed days in public hospitals; that is 3.6% of all bed days that year; compared to 56,264 bed days or 1.7% of the total number of bed days in 1995.
  • €1.5 billion was the cost for alcohol-related discharges from hospital. That is equal to €1 for every €10 spent on public health in 2012. This excludes the cost of emergency cases, GP visits, psychiatric admissions and alcohol treatment services.
  • An estimated 5,315 people on the Live Register in November 2013 had lost their job due to alcohol use.
  • The estimated cost of alcohol-related absenteeism was €41,290,805 in 2013.

What does the law say about alcohol?

The Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015 aims to reduce alcohol consumption in Ireland to 9.1 litres per person per annum by 2020 and to reduce the harms associated with alcohol. The Bill consists of 29 sections and includes five main provisions. These are: minimum unit pricing; health labelling of alcohol products; the regulation of advertising and sponsorship of alcohol products; structural separation of alcohol products in mixed trading outlets; and the regulation of the sale and supply of alcohol in certain circumstances.

See more at Alcohol Action Ireland Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015: Main Measures.

Intoxicating Liquor Acts

  • It is an offence to sell alcohol to anyone under the age of 18.
  • It is an offence to buy alcohol for people under the age of 18.
  • It is also an offence to give alcohol to anyone under the age of 18 unless in a domestic home and they have parental consent.

See more at Citizens Information

For more information on alcohol please refer to the following sources:

  1. World Health Organization. (2014) Global status report on alcohol and health 2014. World Health Organization, Geneva.
  2. National Advisory Committee on Drugs & Public Health Information and Research Branch (2016) Prevalence of drug use and gambling in Ireland & drug use in Northern Ireland. Bulletin 1. Dublin: National Advisory Committee on Drugs and Alcohol.
  3. Taylor, Keishia and Babineau, Kate and Keogan, Sheila and Whelan, Ellen and Clancy, Luke (2016) ESPAD 2015: European Schools Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs in Ireland. Dublin: Department of Health.
  4. Mongan, Deirdre and Long, Jean (2016) Overview of alcohol consumption, alcohol-related harm and alcohol policy in Ireland. Dublin: Health Research Board.
  5. Griffin, Eve and Arensman, Ella and Corcoran, Paul and Dillon, Christina B and Williamson, Eileen and Perry, Ivan J (2016) National Self-Harm Registry Ireland annual report 2015. Cork: National Suicide Research Foundation.
  6. Health Research Board. (2015) Treated problem alcohol use in Ireland: figures for 2013 from the National Drug Treatment Reporting System. Health Research Board, Dublin.
  7. Treatment data HRB National Drugs Library interactive tables.
  8. Mental Health statistics HRB National Psychiatric In-patient Reporting System database.
  9. Health Research Board (2016) National Drug-Related Deaths Index 2004 to 2014 data. Health Research Board, Dublin.

Further resources:

Gavin, Aoife and Keane, Eimear and Callaghan, Mary and Molcho, Michal and Kelly, Colette and Nic Gabhainn, Saoirse (2015) The Irish Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study 2014. Department of Health and National University of Ireland, Galway, Dublin

Gell, Lucy and Ally, Abdallah and Buykx, Penny and Hope, Ann (2015) Alcohol’s harm to others. Institute of Alcohol Studies.

Hope, Ann (2015) Research evidence to prevent alcohol-related harm: what communities can do in Ireland. Galway Healthy Cities: Galway City Alcohol Strategy to Prevent and Reduce Alcohol-Related Harm (2013-2017), Galway.

Useful websites:

How to cite this factsheet:

HRB National Drugs Library (2017) Alcohol: the Irish situation. HRB National Drugs Library, Dublin www.drugsandalcohol.ie/24954

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Other Factsheets in this series:

Cocaine: the Irish situation
Opiates: the Irish situation
Sedatives and tranquillisers: the Irish situation
Cannabis: the Irish situation

HRB National Drugs Library – Find the evidence

www.drugsandalcohol.ie

  • Quick updates – newsletter & Drugnet Ireland
  • Summaries – Factsheets & Annual national reports
  • Policy – Policy page & Dail debates
  • International research on interventions – Evidence resources
  • Publications of key organisations – HRB, NACDA & EMCDDA
  • Explanations of terms and acronyms – Glossary
  • Treatment data – Drug data link (or HRB publications)
  • Alcohol diary data
  • Search our collection – basic and advanced (you can save your results)

HRB National Drugs Library

Health Research Board
Grattan House
67-72 Lower Mount Street
Dublin 2, Ireland
t +353 1 2345 175
e drugs[email protected]
w www.drugsandalcohol.ie

 

 

 

 

HRB Factsheet January 2017 – Opiates: the Irish situation

Opiates: the Irish situation

January 2017


In common usage, the term ‘opiate’ tends to be understood as referring to all opiate/opioid drugs. To keep things simple, this Factsheet uses the term ‘opiate’ in this way.


What are opiates?

Opiates are derived from the dried milk of the opium poppy. Synthetic opiates are called opioids. Heroin is the most commonly used opioid. Methadone, which is used as a substitute drug in the treatment of heroin addiction, is also an opioid.

What do opiates do?

Opiates are sedative drugs that depress the nervous system. They induce feelings of relaxation and detachment in the user. The more often the drug is used the greater the quantity needed to produce the desired effect. Physical dependence often results from regular use and withdrawal can be very unpleasant. Opiates can be smoked, snorted or prepared for injection. Overdosing on an opiate can be fatal.

How do we know how many people use opiates in Ireland?

Surveys of random samples of the population can be used to estimate the total number of people who use specific drugs. However, opiate users are under-represented in population-based surveys, which are not designed to include people who do not normally live in private households (such as the homeless, hostel dwellers or prisoners).

Researchers in Ireland use a number of sources of information to estimate the number of opiate users in the population. These include:

  • The Central Treatment List (CTL), which is a register of the number of people who are receiving methadone or another opioid as a substitute drug treatment.
  • The Hospital In-Patient Enquiry (HIPE) scheme, which records details of people discharged from hospital, including their diagnosis.
  • The Garda information systems, which record details of drug-related crime.

How many people use opiates in Ireland?

There have been attempts in recent years to estimate the number of problem opiate users in Ireland using these overlapping sources. The first study estimated that 14,158 people were using heroin in 2001, a rate of 5.6 per 1,000 of the population. In 2006 the estimate was 20,790, a rate of 7.2 per 1,000. There are about 1.3 million opiate users in Europe.

How many people receive treatment for opiate use?

As of 31st August 2016 there were 9,652 patients receiving treatment for opiate use (excluding prisons).

The National Drug Treatment Reporting System (NDTRS) provides data on treated drug and alcohol misuse in Ireland.a A total of 16,587 cases entered treatment for problem drug or alcohol use in 2014, of whom 4,477 reported an opiate as their main problem drug. Of the 4,477 cases who reported an opiate as their main problem drug:

  • 943 were new cases.
  • 2,148 were resident in Dublin.
  • 2,955 were men.
  • 5 were under 18 years; 2,618 were aged 18–34.
  • 2,676 used opiates with other drugs.
  • 2,079 used an opiate daily, 640 used it between two and six days per week, 294 used it once per week or less, and 1,163 had not used it in the last month.ha
  • 1,737 injected, 2,059 smoked, 487 ate/drank and 5 sniffed/snorted opiates.

How many people die from using opiates?

The National Drug-Related Deaths Index (NDRDI) is a database which records cases of death by drug and alcohol poisoning, and deaths among drug users and those who are alcohol dependent. 354 people died from poisoning in 2014. Opiates were the main drug group implicated in poisoning deaths in Ireland in 2014. Methadone was implicated in more than a quarter of poisonings (98, 28%). The number of deaths where heroin was implicated increased to 90 in 2014 compared to 86 in 2013. This is the second year in succession that a rise in heroin deaths is reported.

One quarter (25%) of all poisoning deaths involved heroin. Of those who died where heroin was implicated:

  • 87% were male
  • 81% involved more than one drug
  • 48% were injecting at the time of the incident that led to their death
  • 46% lived outside Dublin (city and county)
  • 42% were not alone at the time of the incident that led to their death
  • 29% were homeless
  • 18% were recorded as being in addiction treatment at the time of their death.

Non-fatal overdoses and drug-related emergencies

According to the Hospital In-Patient Enquiry (HIPE) scheme, 4,233 cases of non-fatal overdose were discharged from Irish hospitals in 2013. There were 14% (587) positive findings for narcotic or hallucinogenic drugs in relation to these cases, of which 80% (468) were for an opiate.

What does the law say about opiates?

Heroin and other opiates are on the list of controlled drugs under the Misuse of Drugs Acts 1977 and 1984, and amending regulations. Under the legislation a person who has this controlled drug in their possession is guilty of an offence. You can find more information about Irish drug laws, offences and penalties on the Citizens Information Board website.

Seizure of opiates

Information on drugs and crime is published by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) and includes data on drug seizures made by Garda and Revenue Customs officers. The number of seizures of heroin rose from 690 in 2013 to 954 in 2014. There were 15 seizures of methadone in 2009, and 56 in
2014.

The Forensic Science Ireland (FSI) analyses drugs seized by the Garda. FSI prepare a quarterly report for the Garda and the data presented here are from the combined report for 2014. This tells us the number of cases involving drugs initiated by the Garda and gives a picture of the relative
frequency of the various types of illicit drugs seized. 954 cases were associated with seizures of diamorphine (heroin). There was a significant increase in the quantity of heroin seized; from just under 40 Kgs in 2014 to just under 62 Kgs in 2015 (just over 61 Kgs of heroin in 2013).

For more information on opiates please refer to the following sources:

  1. European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.
  2. Kelly A, Teljeur C and Carvalho M (2009). Prevalence of opiate use in Ireland 2006: a 3-source capture-recapture study. Dublin: Stationery Office.
  3. European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (2014) European drug report 2014: trends and developments. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.
  4. Health Service Executive (2017) Health service performance report August/September 2016. Dublin: Health Service Executive.
  5. Treatment data HRB National Drugs Library interactive tables.
  6. Health Research Board (2016) National Drug-Related Deaths Index 2004 to 2014 data. Dublin: Health Research Board.
  7. Health Research Board Irish National Focal Point to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (2016) Ireland: national report for 2015 – harms and harm reduction.
  8. Irish National Focal Point to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. (2016) Ireland: national report for 2015 – drug markets and crime. Dublin: Health Research Board.
  9. An Garda Siochana (2016) An Garda Siochana: annual report 2015. An Garda Siochana, Dublin.

 

How to cite this factsheet:

HRB National Drugs Library (2017) Opiates: the Irish situation. HRB National Drugs Library, Dublin www.drugsandalcohol.ie/17313

************

Other Factsheets in this series:

Cocaine: the Irish situation
Alcohol: the Irish situation
Sedatives and tranquillisers: the Irish situation
Cannabis: the Irish situation

HRB National Drugs Library – Find the evidence

www.drugsandalcohol.ie

  • Quick updates – newsletter & Drugnet Ireland
  • Summaries – Factsheets & Annual national reports
  • Policy – Policy page & Dail debates
  • International research on interventions – Evidence resources
  • Publications of key organisations – HRB, NACDA & EMCDDA
  • Explanations of terms and acronyms – Glossary
  • Treatment data – Drug data link (or HRB publications)
  • Alcohol diary data
  • Search our collection – basic and advanced (you can save your results)

HRB National Drugs Library

Health Research Board
Grattan House
67-72 Lower Mount Street
Dublin 2, Ireland
t: +353 1 2345 175
e: [email protected]
w: www.drugsandalcohol.ie

 

HRB Factsheet January 2017 – Cocaine: the Irish situation

Factsheet – Cocaine: the Irish situation

January 2017


What is cocaine?

Cocaine is a colourless substance obtained from the leaves of certain types of coca plant. There are basically two chemical forms of cocaine:

  • Cocaine powder is a white crystalline powder (hydrochloride salt) and is the most commonly used form. Drug dealers often dilute cocaine powder with other substances, such as talcum powder or sugar (lactose), or local anaesthetic (lignocaine). It is usually inhaled through a thin straw, or dissolved in water and injected.
  • Crack cocaine is an off-white solid substance made by dissolving cocaine powder in a mixture of water and baking soda; this mixture is boiled, dried and broken into rock-like chunks. It can be smoked, or dissolved in an acidic liquid and injected.

What does cocaine do?

The effects of cocaine occur very rapidly and include raised blood pressure, increased body temperature, stimulation, reduction in hunger and thirst, dilation of pupils and feelings of great energy and alertness. Repeated sniffing of cocaine powder irritates the nose and can cause a breakdown of nasal cartilage.

How do we know how many people use cocaine in Ireland?

Every four years the National Advisory Committee on Drugs and Alcohol (NACDA) and the Northern Ireland Public Health Information and Research Branch (PHIRB) commission a survey of the general population to estimate the number of people in Ireland who use drugs and alcohol. Face-to- face interviews take place with respondents aged 15+ normally resident in households in Ireland and Northern Ireland. This type of survey is not designed to include people who do not normally live in private households (such as prisoners or hostel dwellers).

How many people use cocaine in Ireland?

The 2014/15 survey involved 9,505 people (7,005 in Ireland and 2,500 in Northern Ireland). The results for Ireland showed that:

  • Lifetime usage of cocaine (including crack) and cocaine powder at 6.6% and 6.4% respectively.
  • The percentage of respondents aged 15-64 years who reported using cocaine (including crack) at some point in their lives increased from 7% to 8%.
  • The proportion of young adults (15-34) who reported using cocaine in their lifetimes has also increased from 9% to 11%.
  • Similar to the previous studies, more men reported using cocaine in their lifetimes compared to women (11% vs. 5%).

The latest survey estimates show a rise in the percentage of cocaine users in the general population aged 15-64:

Table 1: Lifetime, last year and last month prevalence of cocaine use in the general populationIt is estimated that about 17.1 million Europeans (5.1% of the population aged 15–64 years) have used cocaine at least once in their life. In the last year it is estimated that 3.6 million (1.1%) of adults (15–64) and 2.4 million (1.9%) of young adults (15–34) used cocaine.

How many people receive treatment for cocaine use?

The National Drug Treatment Reporting System (NDTRS) provides data on treated drug and alcohol misuse in Ireland.b The number of cases entering drug treatment who reported cocaine as their main problem drug increased from 482 in 2005 to 743 in 2014.4

Of the 743 cases who reported cocaine as their main problem drug:

  • 369 (49%) were new cases.
  • 421 (56%) lived in Dublin.
  • 595 (80%) were men.
  • 17 (2%) were aged under 18 years; 459 (61%) were aged 18–34; 175 (23%) were aged 35–44; and 29 (3.9%) were aged 45–64.
  • 522 (70%) used cocaine with other drugs.
  • 110 (14%) used cocaine daily, 300 (40%) used it between two and six times per week, 104 (14%) used it once per week or less, and 193 (26%) had not used it in the last month.
  • 584 (78%) sniffed or snorted cocaine, 116 (15%) smoked it, 14 (2%) ate or drank it, and 10 (1.3%) injected it.

How many people die from using cocaine?

The National Drug-Related Deaths Index (NDRDI) is a database of cases of death by drug and alcohol poisoning, and deaths among drug users and people who are alcohol dependent. Cocaine-related deaths increased by 25% from 32 in 2013 to 40 in 2014. Almost all deaths (98%) where cocaine was implicated involved other drugs. Cannabis and cocaine were the most common drugs used by those who died as a result of hanging.

Non-fatal overdoses and drug-related emergencies

According to the Hospital In-Patient Enquiry (HIPE) scheme there were 4,233 cases of non-fatal overdose discharged from Irish hospitals in 2013. Narcotic or hallucinogenic drugs were involved in 587 (14%) of these cases. Cocaine is included in this drug category and was present in 60 (10%) of cases.

Non-fatal overdoses and drug-related emergencies

According to the Hospital In-Patient Enquiry (HIPE) scheme there were 4,233 cases of non-fatal overdose discharged from Irish hospitals in 2013. Narcotic or hallucinogenic drugs were involved in 587 (14%) of these cases. Cocaine is included in this drug category and was present in 60 (10%) of cases.

What does the law say about cocaine?

Cocaine is on the list of drugs that are controlled by law. A person found in possession of cocaine powder or crack cocaine is guilty of an offence. You can find more information about Irish drug laws, offences and penalties on the Citizens Information Board website.

Seizures of cocaine

There has been a significant decline in the number of seizures of cocaine made by Garda and Revenue Customs officers since 2007, when the total was 1,749. There were 366 cocaine seizures in in 2013 and 405 in 2014. In 2015 just under 109 Kgs of cocaine was seized.

For more information on cocaine, please refer to the following sources:

  1. The independent health website: http://www.irishhealth.com/article.html?id=453
  2. National Advisory Committee on Drugs & Public Health Information and Research Branch (2016) Prevalence of drug use and gambling in Ireland & drug use in Northern Ireland. Bulletin 1. Dublin: National Advisory Committee on Drugs and Alcohol.
  3. European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. (2016) European Drug Report 2016: trends and developments. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.
  4. Treatment data HRB National Drugs Library interactive tables.
  5. Health Research Board. (2016) National Drug-Related Deaths Index 2004 to 2014 data. Dublin: Health Research Board
  6. Irish National Focal Point to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. (2016) Ireland: national report for 2015 – harms and harm reduction. Dublin: Health Research Board.
  7. Irish National Focal Point to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. (2016) Ireland: national report for 2015 – drug markets and crime. Dublin: Health Research Board.
  8. An Garda Siochana. (2016) An Garda Siochana: annual report 2015. An Garda Siochana, Dublin.

And see also, European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (2016) Perspectives on drugs: cocaine trafficking to Europe. Lisbon: European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.

How to cite this factsheet:

HRB National Drugs Library (2017) Cocaine: the Irish situation. HRB National Drugs Library, Dublin www.drugsandalcohol.ie/24954

************

Other factsheets in this series:

Cocaine: the Irish situation
Opiates: the Irish situation
Sedatives and tranquillisers: the Irish situation
Cannabis: the Irish situation
Alcohol: the Irish situation

HRB National Drugs Library – Find the evidence

www.drugsandalcohol.ie

  • Quick updates – newsletter & Drugnet Ireland
  • Summaries – Factsheets & Annual national reports
  • Policy – Policy page & Dail debates
  • International research on interventions – Evidence resources
  • Publications of key organisations – HRB, NACDA & EMCDDA
  • Explanations of terms and acronyms – Glossary
  • Treatment data – Drug data link (or HRB publications)
  • Alcohol diary data
  • Search our collection – basic and advanced (you can save your results)

HRB National Drugs Library

Health Research Board
Grattan House
67-72 Lower Mount Street
Dublin 2, Ireland
t: +353 1 2345 175
e: [email protected]
w: www.drugsandalcohol.ie

HRB Factsheet November 2016 – Cannabis: the Irish situation


Factsheet- Cannabis: the Irish situation

November 2016


What is cannabis?

Cannabis is a natural product, the main psychoactive constituent of which is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Herbal cannabis and cannabis resin are formally known as marijuana and hashish. Cannabis cigarettes may be called reefers, joints or spliffs.

What does cannabis do?

All forms of cannabis are mind-altering and act by affecting the part of the brain where memories are formed. Small doses have very mild effects, sometimes none in the first time user.

Short-term effects of cannabis may include:

  • Difficulty learning and remembering
  • Distorted sense of vision, hearing or touch
  • Trouble thinking and problem-solving
  • Loss of co-ordination
  • Increased heart rate, anxiety, panic attacks.

How do we know how mnay people use cannabis in Ireland?

Every four years the National Advisory Committee on Drugs and Alcohol (NACDA) and the Northern Ireland Public Health Information and Research Branch (PHIRB) commission a survey of the general population to estimate the number of people in Ireland who use drugs and alcohol. Face-to- face interviews take place with respondents aged 15+ normally resident in households in Ireland and Northern Ireland. This type of survey is not designed to include people who do not normally live in private households (such as prisoners or hostel dwellers).

How many people use cannabis in Ireland?

The 2014/15 survey involved 9,505 people (7,005 in Ireland and 2,500 in Northern Ireland). The results for Ireland showed that:

  • Just over one in four people had used cannabis making it the most commonly used illegal drug in Ireland.
  • 27.9% had used it at least once (lifetime use).
  • 7.7% had used it in the last 12 months (recent use).
  • 4.4% had used it in the last month (current use).
  • 35.8% of men had used it, compared to 20% of women (lifetime use).
  • Lifetime usage of cannabis is highest amongst the 25 to 34 age group with 40.4% in this age group having used this drug at some stage during their lives. Those aged 15 to 24 are the most likely to have used cannabis both in the past year (16.2%) and past month (9.2%).

The latest survey estimates show a rise in the percentage of cannabis users in the general population aged 15–64:

Table 1: Lifetime, last year and last month prevalence of cannabis use in the general populationAn estimated 16.6 million (13.3%) young Europeans (aged 15–34) used cannabis in the last year, with 9.6 million (16.4%) of these aged 15–24. Among young people using cannabis in the last year, the ratio of males to females is two to one.

How many Irish 15-16 year old students use cannabis?

The European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD) has conducted surveys of school-going children every four years since 1995, using a standardised method and a common questionnaire (see www.espad.org ). The sixth survey, conducted in 36 European countries during 2014/15, collected information on alcohol, tobacco and illicit drug use. 1,400 Irish students were surveyed in 2015.

  • More male (22.4%) than female respondents (15.5%) have ever tried cannabis (lifetime use).
  • 16.8% of students had used cannabis in the last 12 months (recent use).
  • 9.8% had use cannabis in the last 30 days (current use).
  • Around 70% of students who had used cannabis first did so at age 14 or 15 and the mean age of initiation was 14 years-old.
  • 43.4% perceived that it would be fairly or very easy to get cannabis if they wanted it.
  • A quarter of students (25.8%) said that there was no risk in trying cannabis and most
    students (32.5%) said that there was only a slight risk in trying it once or twice.

How many people receive treatment for cannabis use?

The National Drug Treatment Reporting System (NDTRS) provides data on treated drug and alcohol misuse in Ireland.

The most recent published data from the NDTRS5 shows that:

The number of cases entering drug treatment who reported cannabis as their main problem drug increased from 1,058 in 2005 to 2,609 in 2014.

Of the 2,609 cases in 2014 who reported cannabis as their main problem drug:

  • 611 (23.4%) were aged under 18 years; 1,738 (66.8%) were aged 18–34; 193 (7.3%) were aged 35–44; and 59 (2.2%) were aged 45–64.
  • 1,638 were new cases.
  • 2,101 (80%) were men.
  • 1,346 (51%) used cannabis with other drugs.
  • 1,330 (51%) used cannabis daily, 597 (22.8%) used it between two and six times per week, 205 (7.8%) used it once per week or less, and 377 (14.4%) had not used it in the last month.

What does the law say about cannabis?

Cannabis is on the list of drugs that are controlled by law. A person found in possession of cannabis or cannabis resin is guilty of an offence. It is also an offence to grow cannabis plants. You can find more information about Irish drug laws, offences and penalties on the Citizens Information Board website.

Seizures of cannabis

Cannabis accounts for the largest number of drug seizures in Ireland, as reported by the Central Statistics Office. Seizures are made by Garda and Revenue Customs officers and include cannabis herb, plants and resin. There were 2,912 cannabis seizures in 2012, 2,991 in 2013 and 2,226 in 2014.

The Garda send drugs seized to the laboratory of Forensic Science Ireland (FSI) for analysis. FSI prepare a quarterly report for the Garda and the data presented here are from the combined report for 2014. This tells us the number of cases involving drugs initiated by the Garda and gives a picture of the relative frequency of the various types of illicit drugs seized. 1,628 cases were associated with seizures of cannabis herb, 340 with cannabis plants and 258 with cannabis resin.

For more information on cannabis please refer to the following sources:

See also
(2016) ESPAD report 2015 results from the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities.

How to cite this factsheet:

HRB National Drugs Library (2016) Cannabis: the Irish situation. HRB National Drugs Library, Dublin www.drugsandalcohol.ie/17307

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Other Factsheets in this series:

Cocaine: the Irish situation
Opiates: the Irish situation
Sedatives and tranquillisers: the Irish situation
Alcohol – the Irish situation

HRB National Drugs Library – Find the evidence
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IRISH EXAMINER 9/6/16 – Calls to solve issue of housing for drug addicts

The Irish Examiner’s Cormac O’Keeffe reports – Many recovering drug addicts relapse as they cannot access appropriate housing, a leading treatment service has said.

Coolmine, established in 1973, urged the Government to develop an “inter-agency approach” to housing to deal with the problem.

Chairman Alan Connolly said while 85% of its clients remain drug-free two years on, not everyone did.

“Many of those who relapse tend to be those who cannot find appropriate housing and end up either returning to a drug-addiction environment or to a difficult family situation or living rough,” he said.

Mr Connolly urged housing minister Simon Coveney to take into consideration the needs of those who successfully tackle their addictions when addressing housing problems.

Speaking at the launch of Coolmine’s 2015 annual report, he called on the minister to strongly consider an interagency approach to ensure long-term sustainability.

Continue reading on the Irish Examiner Website….

HSE announces expansion of effective Hepatitis C treatment

The HSE has announced plans to extend the clinical eligibility to Directly Acting Antivirals (DAAs) drug treatments as part of the next phase of the treatment plan to eliminate Hepatitis C in Ireland by 2026. Since late 2014 almost 700 people have been treated. This expansion will enable the HSE to improve access to an extended group of patients.

Currently there are an estimated 20,000 to 50,000 people in Ireland chronically infected with hepatitis C, more than half of whom are not aware of their infection, the stage of their disease and, in some cases, are not linked to care. 14,500 people have been tested and clinically diagnosed with Hepatitis C and have been notified to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre since Hepatitis C became a notifiable disease in 2004. However, epidemiological research indicates that the prevalence of the disease could affect up to twice that amount with approximately 700-800 new cases being notified each year.

Hepatitis C is often called “the silent pandemic”, partly because the virus takes so long to manifest itself in those infected and become symptomatic. Spread largely by blood-to-blood contact, in about 15-30% of cases the body’s natural defence system can eliminate the disease. The rest of those infected develop chronic HCV infection. For most infected persons, however, acquisition of the virus either causes no discernible symptoms, or non-specific ones such as general fatigue. The virus can persist for decades before the emergence of complications. Most patients – about 60-70% of those with HCV – develop chronic liver disease. 20-30% develop cirrhosis of the liver, which typically appears after two or three decades. Those patients with hepatitis C related cirrhosis also carry a higher than normal risk of developing hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the most common type of liver cancer.

Since 2014 highly successful treatments for hepatitis C have become available. These new treatments, using drugs known as Directly Acting Antivirals (DAAs), offer a cure for Hepatitis C in the majority of patients. The HSE established a National Hepatitis C Treatment Programme in 2015 to work with key stakeholders, clinicians and patients to develop a 10 year strategy to eliminate Hepatitis C through the delivery of new, effective treatments. The National Hepatitis C Treatment Programme is now moving to the next phase of the plan, having first prioritised seriously ill patients with end stage liver disease and cirrhosis in addition to patients infected through receipt of contaminated blood products.

Professor Suzanne Norris, Consultant Hepatologist and Clinical Lead for the National Hepatitis C Treatment Programme says, “We are moving to the next phase and extending the clinical eligibility for treatment criteria. This new phase enables us to include an additional 1,500 people to the treatment programme based on their clinical diagnosis. As a clinician who has been working with patients living with hepatitis C for many years, I am delighted that we are now in a position to offer this extremely effective and successful drug treatment to more patients. It is not often that we say we can cure a patient of a disease but these new medicines offer the chance of cure in excess of 90% of patients who complete a course of treatment.”

“Prior to the development of directly acting antivirals, clearance rates of HCV with drug regimens available would have been in the range of 50-75%, and lower in patients with cirrhosis. Those treatments, which required a weekly injection, were of long duration and associated with many side effects. Our goal is to continue in the short to medium term to extend treatment eligibility based on clinical need to patients with moderate liver disease, while continuing to treat patients with more advanced liver disease.”

Preventing the spread of the disease
Those most at risk of contracting the infection are injecting drug users but others are infected through blood. Just a small trace of blood can cause an infection, and the virus can survive outside of the body in patches of dried blood on surfaces, for at least 16 hours. Never share any injecting equipment, such as needles, syringes, spoons and filters. Also, do not share razors, toothbrushes or towels that might be contaminated with blood. Use a condom if you are having sex with a new partner.

You can reduce the risk of passing it on to others by:
• keeping personal items, such as toothbrushes or razors, for your own use
• cleaning and covering any cut or a graze with a waterproof dressing
• cleaning any blood from surfaces with household bleach
• not sharing needles or syringes with others
• not donating blood
• using condoms when having sex with new partners (seek advice about long-term partners)

For a list of national drug and alcohol services, please visit www.drugs.ie/services.
For confidential support, please contact the Helpline Freephone 1800 459 459.

A full overview of Hepatitis C, symptoms, treatments and support resources is available here.

 

Drugs & Alcohol

NICCC Submission to Kieran Mulvey

After all the hard work of the North Inner City Community Coalition over the last few months, the eight working groups have completed their proposed lists of issues and resolutions. Now, the submission to Kieran Mulvey, who has been tasked with the job of reporting the situation back to an Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, has been compiled. The document has been signed off on by the community and has been submitted to Kieran Mulvey. The community’s move in this process of community engagement has been made. The next move is in the hands of the State.

[Full Document]

Meeting the Minister

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H.O.P.E. would like to express a massive thanks to Minister for State, Catherine Byrne and her staff. Minister Byrne has been tasked with delivering the new national drug strategy. Catherine has taken it upon herself to visit the various projects that help people break free from addiction – a massive undertaking. It was great to discuss HOPE’s past, present, & future and our place under the new national drug strategy.

Dublin City Council Media Statement September 22nd 2016

Creating Tenancies and Supporting Rough Sleepers

Dublin City Council and the Dublin Region Homeless Executive[i] today welcome the commitments from Simon Coveney T.D. Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, Simon Harris T.D. Minister for Health and Katherine Zappone T.D. Minister for Children and Youth affairs, to address homelessness with specific focus on the expansion of the Housing Assistance Payment pilot for homeless households, Rapid Build Programme and the Housing First Service.

All members of the Dublin Joint Homeless Consultative Forum will continue to work in partnership to support all the initiatives and deliver on the following key actions;

Ø €4 million to expand emergency accommodation in Dublin – 200 new emergency beds – Dublin City Council and the Dublin Region Homeless Executive will be increasing the number of emergency accommodation beds in the Dublin Region over the coming months.

Ø 1500 Rapid Build Units by the end of 2018 – The expansion of this programme will ensure that families are moved directly out of commercial hotels and into more suitable accommodation. More information here http://www.homelessdublin.ie/rapid-build-housing-dublin

Ø Housing Assistance Payment Pilot for homeless households will be expanded over 2016 and 2017. 550 tenancies will be secured by the end of 2016. A further 1200 tenancies will be created in 2017.

Ø Housing First Service to expand to 300 tenancies, specifically targeting rough sleepers across the Dublin Region. The HSE will increase their funding to provide health, mental health and addiction supports to rough sleepers and individuals accessing emergency accommodation.

Ø Travel and childcare supports for families currently in hotel accommodation

Ø Quality standards in emergency accommodation and the use of assertive engagement to reduce rough sleeping in Dublin.

HIV Virality

HIV diagnosis up 30% last year

In this segment from yesterday’s (15th June 2016) RTÉ Radio 1’s ‘Morning Ireland’, Niall Mulligan, Executive Director of HIV Ireland, discusses a campaign to highlight the increased risk of HIV infection amongst people who inject drugs, particularly ‘snow blow’

Campaigners are alarmed at a surge in HIV cases in Ireland after they jumped by more than third over the last five years.

Almost 500 people were diagnosed as living with the infection last year — up from 372 on the previous year.

Around 10 people are being newly-diagnosed with HIV every week in Ireland.

HIV Ireland, a national charity set up to battle the spread of the infection, has urged a country-wide campaign to stem the “worrying trend”.

Niall Mulligan, the charity’s executive director, said he is “alarmed at the relentless upward trend in HIV diagnoses”.

“Official figures are likely to understate the scale of the crisis,” he added.

“According to the World Health Organisation, 30 per cent of people living with HIV are undiagnosed.

“It is therefore likely the number of people living with HIV in Ireland is considerably higher than the number of diagnosed cases.”

Mr Mulligan has said the new government, when it is formed, needs to mount a public awareness drive, including free condoms and testing nationwide.

“We also need to focus on people who face a higher risk due to their circumstances – being homeless, being addicted to drugs, working within the sex industry, being in prison, suffering from poor mental health,” he added.

“Failure to do so runs the risk of creating a catastrophe out of a crisis.”