By Órla Ryan

Levels of illegal drug use have risen by 1.9% between 2010/11 and 2014/15. The findings are included in Drug Use in Ireland and Northern Ireland, a study published today, and arise from data collected in the fourth Drug Prevalence Survey.

The results indicate that cannabis continues to be the most commonly used illegal drug and that the use of new psychoactive substances has dropped significantly.

Catherine Byrne, Minister for Health Promotion and the National Drugs Strategy, welcomed the publication of the findings.

She said some of the issues raised in the report are addressed by plans laid out in Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery – the government’s strategy on tackling substance abuse from 2017-2025. 

“The strategy commits to developing targeted, appropriate and effective services for young people at risk of substance misuse, focused on socially and economically disadvantaged communities,” Byrne said. "I am aware that services on the ground are concerned about the rapid increase in numbers of young people taking benzodiazepines in combination with other substances."

Most respondents (74.5%) agree that people should be permitted to take cannabis for medical reason but disagree with the recreational use of the class B controlled substance.