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The European Web Survey on Drugs Irish Findings


The 2021 European Web Survey on Drugs(EWSD) was conducted simultaneously across Europe from March to May 2021 and thirty European countries participated in the survey.

We collaboration with the Health Research Board (HRB) and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) to roll out the survey in 2021 to help inform our work on emerging drug trends. Web-based surveys have the benefit of reaching people who use drugs directly and provide new data rapidly to help identify emerging trends, which meant that we would get the most up to date information directly from people who use drugs in Ireland. 

The survey was voluntary and anonymous meaning that no personal details were captured. 

Overall, 5,762 people in Ireland took part in the survey and over 50,000 people took part across 30 different countries.

Main findings

It is important to note that this survey is not a general population study and so cannot be taken as representative of the broader public as a whole; rather the aim is to investigate the behaviour of a particular sub-group of the population who identify themselves as drug users. In addition, results may have been impacted by the fact that when this survey was undertaken, COVID-19 restrictions were in place in Ireland, including the closure of nightlife settings.

Drug types and frequency of use

Among the survey sample of people who have used drugs in the last year, cannabis was the most commonly used drug, followed in order by cocaine, ecstasy, and ketamine. In the last year, 36% of respondents had used one drug, 20% used two different drugs, and 44% used three or more. Among 18–24-year-old respondents, 55% of males and 50% of females had used three or more drugs in the past year.

The survey findings revealed the following insights on the use of specific drugs:

Reasons for using drugs
Respondents cited a range of reasons for using drugs. The main reasons for using cannabis were to reduce stress or to relax (80%); to get high or for fun (76%); and to improve sleep (57%). For cocaine, users were mainly taking the drug to get high or for fun (88%); to socialise (70%); and out of curiosity (11%).

Purchasing of drugs
Survey respondents were asked about how they purchase the drugs they use. It was found that for cannabis herb, the most common channels were direct contact with source/dealer (86%), through social media (22%), or via the darknet (9%). For cocaine, the breakdown was similar: most commonly users purchased the drug through direct contact with source/dealer (87%), via social media networks (14%) or on the darknet (3%).

Impact of COVID-19
When survey respondents were asked about the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on their drug use, results varied depending on the drug in question. Forty-five per cent of cannabis herb users reported increased use, while almost one in three decreased their use. More than one in ten ecstasy users increased use, with just over six in ten using the drug less frequently. And higher use was reported by more than one quarter of cocaine users, with nearly one half reducing their use.

Download the report here.

Download presentations from the launch event: Nicki Killeen,HSE 'Methods and recruitment'

Posted by on 07/21 at 09:38 AM in
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