By Mark Lynch
A new survey aims to capture a comprehensive picture of drug use trends and behaviours among third level students.
The Drug Use in Higher Education in Ireland survey is the first national, sector-specific survey of its kind and will look to inform a nationwide sectoral action plan to tackle harm caused by drug use by students in higher education, which is currently in the pipeline. Irish research in this area is sparse, with reports of lifetime use varying from 53% (My World Survey 2) to 82% (National Student Drug Survey). Drug use carries with it many risks and harms, both short and long term, personal and societal.
The DUHEI Survey will be sent to a random sample of Irish Higher Education students between the 24th of March and the 9th of April. The information gathered will provide important national baseline information on the landscape of drug use among students. It will contribute to the development of harm-reduction interventions and policies, positively impacting the lives of students in the future. The survey, which will be entirely anonymous, wants to hear from students who have never used drugs, who may have used drugs in the past, and who are current or recent drug users as to gather a complete picture of trends and attitudes within higher education across the board.
Lorna Fitzpatrick, President of the Union of Students in Ireland (USI), outlined the necessity of the survey. “There is a huge gap in knowledge, in the area of illicit drug use among third level students in Ireland. The DUHEI survey and the data received, will assist the USI, Students’ Unions and Higher Education Institutions across Ireland, in developing services, policies and information campaigns for students who choose to take drugs”.
She continued, “According to the National Student Drugs Survey, 82% of students have tried illegal drugs, so this is a reality for third level students at the moment. With that in mind, it is crucial that we get as many students as possible taking part in this survey on drugs use, so we can attempt to understand how many students are taking drugs, see what kind of drugs students are taking, when they’re taking them, where and why are they’re choosing to take drugs”.