Dublin: Irish Abuse Of Synthetic Drugs ‘Highest In Europe’: Survey

11 Jul

The usage levels of synthetic drugs in Ireland is the highest in Europe, a new survey has shown.

 Headshop drugs - High usage levels found in Ireland

Headshop drugs – High usage levels found in Ireland

Some 16% of young people in Ireland have used the drugs in Ireland compared to a European average of 5%.

A total of 9% have tried the drugs in Poland and Latvia, 8% in the UK and 7% in Luxembourg, according to the latest Eurobarometer poll.

The Commission describes as ‘alarming’ the rise in synthetic drugs, such as mephedrone, which have been circumventing normal laws because the chemicals involved are not individually banned.

The drugs are often purchased over the internet or sold in headshops.

Last year 41 new drugs were notified to the authorities compared to just 24 in 2009. There have been new 115 notifications in total since 2005.

NEWS UPDATE:

IRELAND’S young people remain the biggest users of “legal highs” in the EU as the number of synthetic drugs coming on the market increases at an alarming rate, a report has stated.
The findings come despite legislation last year banning the sale of many of the products and the resultant closure of many of the head shops that sold them.

The EU barometer survey of 15 to 24-year-olds, conducted in May of this year, also suggests that all drugs, including heroin, are much easier to obtain here than in most European countries.

Young people in Ireland also attach much less risk to using such drugs than do their counterparts in the rest of the EU.

According to the report, the number of synthetic drugs coming on the market is increasing at an alarming rate as laboratories spring up and internet sales grow.

Manufactured mostly by criminal gangs, these so-called legal highs mimic the effect of illegal drugs like cocaine, ecstasy and LSD and have been blamed for many deaths and serious illness throughout Europe.

A little more than 16% of those polled here had tried legal highs — more than three times the EU average. The second highest number was Poland, where 9% had tried the products.

Despite the closure of the vast majority of head shops, more than half of those polled said they had bought the products in a head shop, with less than 5% suggesting they had obtained them over the internet.

Labour MEP Nessa Childers, said there was still a major problem of synthetic drug use in Ireland.

“We have banned many of them but others are continually being developed. We must now look at tackling the online sales market.”

EU Justice commissioner Viviane Reding also announced plans to strengthen the rules: “These rules must be strengthened to make sure young people do not fall into the trap of using these dangerous drugs.”

The survey also revealed that young Irish people are the most tolerant of legal highs, with just one-third saying they should be banned outright. More than half appeared to think they may be safe and said they should only be banned if they posed a health risk. One in five said the best way to get rid of the problem was to legalise the drugs.

About half of young people continue to support the ban on cannabis but more than 40% said the drug should be sold legally but on a regulated basis. Almost 20% said they had used cannabis in the past year — fourth highest in the EU.

Ecstasy was also considered to be easy to obtain while 17% believed that it would be easy to buy heroin — the EU average is 5%.

Attitudes to alcohol were predictably relaxed here, with less than a third thinking that regular drinking could pose a high risk to a person’s health. Danish youngsters were the only group whose attitudes to alcohol were more relaxed.

The report also revealed that last year, 41 new synthetic drugs were notified to EU authorities compared to just 24 in 2009. There have been new 115 notifications in total since 2005.
Banned ‘headshop drugs’ available online

44 headshops now operating in Ireland

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