The second phase of a drug information campaign aimed at students was launched today by the Union of Students of Ireland (USI), in partnership with Drugs.ie and the HSE. The campaign focuses on harm reduction messaging and is aimed at young adults and students who use new psychoactive substances (NPS)*. This is the second step of an ongoing campaign to provide harm reduction information about NPS for students. Two posters have been designed supported by a social media campaign to give harm reduction advice and information on accessing support.
This phase of the campaign focuses on synthetic cannabinoids1 and mephedrone2. Synthetic cannabinoids are chemicals that mimic the effects of cannabis - but they can be up to 100 times stronger. Mephedrone is one of a range of cathinone drugs and previously these were sold as ‘bath salts’ during the headshop era in Ireland. They are deemed to have similar physical effects to other stimulant drugs, in particular, ecstasy and cocaine. The use of psychoactive drugs in Ireland among the 15-24 year age group is the highest in Europe (22% lifetime use). 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.
Annie Hoey, USI President, said: ''USI are delighted to continue working with the HSE and Drugs.ie on this harm reduction campaign. We have been working hard this year to provide information to students and our Unions to highlight the effects associated with NPS misuse. The harm reduction messages in this campaign are paramount: ultimately to reduce harm and to ensure that people who choose to take NPS are aware of the importance of testing in small doses, taking NPS in safe controlled environments, and taking time out between sessions. These posters will be sent to colleges across Ireland and we hope to continue and advocate this conversation with our members.”
Dr. Eamon Keenan, HSE National Clinical Lead for Addiction services added: ‘We are very pleased to be working in conjunction with the Union of Students of Ireland to deliver this important harm reduction message to students. A key component of this message is to look after yourself and look out for your friends. These drugs have no form of regulation or quality control and the purity, strength and effects vary widely from batch-to-batch. Mental health problems can be caused or worsened by these drugs and if you do decide to use them then do not mix with alcohol or other drugs and do not take them alone. If a friend is suffering an adverse reaction seek help and contact the emergency services immediately.‘’
Copies of the new posters are available here. 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 riskier. You are advised not to use. It’s always safer not to use illegal drugs.