Northern Ireland Reports Drug Use Rates

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The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety today published a Statistical Bulletin presenting key findings from the second Drug Prevalence Survey.

This statistical publication presents an analysis of polydrug use (the use of more than one substance) within the month prior to the survey. It is published jointly with the National Advisory Committee on Drugs in the Republic of Ireland and relates to a survey carried out between October 2006 and May 2007.

Key Points

Northern Ireland Results

* Just over one-fifth (21%) of all adults aged 15-64 had not used any drugs (legal or illegal) in the last month.

* The most commonly reported form of polydrug use among all adults is a combination of alcohol and tobacco; this is also true for gender and age.

* Four percent of all adults had used tobacco only in the previous month.

* Among all adults, polydrug use involving any illegal drugs is small at 2%.

* A higher percentage of females (24%) than males (18%) had not used any drugs (legal or illegal) during the last month.

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* Combined use of alcohol and tobacco was more frequently reported by males (21%) than females (16%).

* A larger proportion of young adults aged 15-34 (23%) reported using a combination of alcohol and tobacco than older adults aged 35-64 (15%).

* Over three-quarters (78%) of all adults who had smoked tobacco, had also used alcohol in the last month.

* The majority of current cannabis users also reported using alcohol (98%) and tobacco (76%).

Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland Comparisons

* Approximately one-fifth of all adults in both Northern Ireland (21%) and the Republic of Ireland (20%) had not used any drugs (legal or illegal) in the last month.

* The most common form of polydrug use among all adults is a combination of alcohol and tobacco for both jurisdictions and is more prevalent in the Republic (27%) than in Northern Ireland (18%).

* Similar proportions of respondents smoked tobacco only in both the Republic of Ireland (5%) and Northern Ireland (4%), while a larger proportion of respondents consumed alcohol only in the Republic (50%) than in Northern Ireland (43%).

* Combinations that involved the use of sedatives or tranquillisers and antidepressants were generally higher among older adults than young adults in both jurisdictions.

* In both the Republic and Northern Ireland, combinations that involved the use of any illegal drugs were reported by a small minority of respondents.

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