A College Tribune poll has revealed that 59% of UCD students admit to having taken illegal drugs since enrolling in college.
The poll of 200 students exposes the drinking and drug taking habits of UCD at a time when a surge in alcohol abuse has been reported by the Irish Health Research Board.
While marijuana was seen as the drug of preference by students, sovaldi other drugs which scored highly included cocaine, cheap which has been taken by 19% of UCD’s drug users. Less used drugs included acid, store which 4% have taken, while 3% of students claimed to have taken “other.” No students took heroin.
The College Tribune poll was taken anonymously but on a face-to-face basis. As such, it must be pointed out that the figures revealed by the poll reflect the actions that students have admitted to taking, and not necessarily what they have done.
A social dimension of drug taking could be seen in the poll results. Only two people who took cocaine had also taken marijuana, implying that cocaine and marijuana are taken in different social circles in UCD. Additionally, of the 59% of students who admitted to having taken illegal drugs, 76% of these were men and 24% were women.
The poll revealed an attitude amongst students that marijuana is an acceptable drug. One 2nd Year Arts student told the College Tribune that he “smoked some weed in Amsterdam, but that doesn’t count.” This attitude is supported by a survey carried out by the College Tribune last year in which one student claimed that cannabis was not an addictive substance and could be used recreationally with friends without having consequential effects.
This attitude, however, contradicts warnings from health officials. Smoking cannabis, especially in adolescents, is dangerous as it affects the part of the brain where memory is formed, therefore causing learning difficulties. Additional research suggests that there is a clear link between early cannabis use and later mental health problems, as under 25’s who smoke cannabis weekly have double the risk of depression later in life.
Conversely, the results of the poll challenged the common argument that marijuana is a “gateway” drug. Marijuana proved to be the most popular drug of choice for students, with 88% of drug-using students admitting to having smoked the it. However, it was seen that 76% of drug users claimed to have only taken marijuana and no other drug. As such, only one eighth of people who have taken marijuana have also taken other drugs.
The poll also gave insight into student attitudes towards drinking, as only 24% of people polled believed that alcohol should be described as a “dangerous drug.” This may be a contributing factor in a finding published in the 2011 UCDSU Diary and Handbook, which quoted the figure of €1670 as the average yearly spending of an Irish student on alcohol in the 2010/2011 academic year.
UCD Student’s Union, including Welfare Officer Rachel Breslin, have recognised student drug use as an issue in UCD, and as a result dedicated a number of pages in the UCDSU Diary and Handbook to facts of the dangers of alcohol and drugs. The handbook also highlights where students may seek help.
For further information on the dangers of drugs students can search online at www.drugs.ie. Students who are suffering from an alcoholic or addiction problem, or who know someone who has a problem, can call the Irish Association of Alcohol and Addiction Counsellors (IAAAC) on 01-7979187.