According to new data, there are a growing number of people in Ireland regularly consuming a variety of drugs. In particular, the report indicates an uptick in marijuana and MDMA use among Irish youth — so much so, in fact, that Ireland is becoming one of the most drug-heavy countries in Europe.
New Data Shows Rising Drug Use
The data comes from the new report, “European Drug Report 2018: Trends and Developments.” This report uses numbers compiled and analyzed by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.
This year’s report pointed to a number of trends in Ireland. Many of these trends point to an increase in drug consumption throughout the country.
Most notably, it appears that young adults in Ireland are now consuming more marijuana than in the past. Back in 2007, 10 percent of people in Ireland between the ages of 15 and 34 said they smoked weed. In 2015, that number rose to 14 percent.
Marijuana remains illegal in Ireland, but the country does allow for very limited uses of cannabis for medical purposes. That means that the rising number of weed consumers in the country could also lead to growing legal tensions.
According to The Journal, there were just over 16,000 drug crimes in Ireland in 2016. Of those offenses, 11,485 were for simple possession.
Recognizing that the criminalization of drugs, including cannabis and many others, is creating a growing number of non-violent “criminals,” activists and lawmakers in Ireland have now started working on drug law reform.
“We are criminalizing large numbers of people every year, but the evidence from around the world shows that doing so does not significantly reduce the numbers of people who use drugs, but does act as a barrier to support, care, and future opportunities,” said Tony Duffin, from the Ana Liffey Drug Project.
Ireland is currently exploring new ways to deal with illegal drug use. In particular, many are beginning to look at decriminalizing drug use and approaching it instead as a public health issue.
“We need to respond to possession with health interventions, not criminal sanctions,” Duffin said.
MDMA Use Also On The Rise
Of course, marijuana isn’t the only illegal substance being used in Ireland, and it is far from being the most dangerous illegal substance being used in the country.
The country has also seen an uptick in the number of young adults using MDMA. In 2007, 2.4 percent of young adults in Ireland reported using MDMA. That number grew to 4.4 percent in 2016.
But the growing number of people abusing opioids is of real concern to many in Ireland. Current stats reveal that there are around 19,000 high-risk opioid users in Ireland. In 2015, opioids were responsible for 224 overdose deaths. The increasing frequency of opioid abuse is one of the biggest forces driving the country’s attempts to rethink its drug laws.
In addition to stats about drug use, the new report also provides data on drug treatment trends. Those numbers show when people enter rehab, they are most often seeking help with heroin addiction. In 2016, there were reportedly 3,560 people seeking treatment for heroin. There were 2,380 people seeking help with cannabis use that same year.