The Irish public are being asked to share their experiences of taking drugs in a new anonymised survey.
The request from the HSE, the Health Research Board (HRB) and the EU drugs agency (EMCDDA) comes in order to shape the future of drug policies and interventions.
The survey asks people about the types of drugs they use, why they use them, how they use them, quantities purchased and prices paid.
There are also questions on socio-demographics, drug-using patterns, access to treatment, access to drugs and how Covid-19 has affected patterns of drug use.
Targeted at people aged 18 and over who have used drugs in the last 12 months, the survey aims to improve understanding of patterns of drug use in 30 countries.
The HSE said the survey will provide “valuable insight” into “the diverse groups who use drugs in Ireland, including the use of psychedelic mushrooms and nitrous oxide.”
“We are generally well-informed about people who attend addiction services but this is, of course, just part of the picture of drug use in Ireland as there are many groups who may never present to the current structures,” Dr Eamon Keenan, national clinical lead of the HSE's addiction services said.
“What this survey will give us is a chance to learn about patterns, trends and emerging needs that will help to create interventions and harm reduction supports into the future.
“The results of this survey will help us to form a picture of drug use in Ireland. Under the National Drugs Strategy, we are reviewing a range of ways to help us understand drug use such as drug checking services, waste water epidemiology, syringe analysis, hospital data and web surveys to improve harm reduction and risk communications.”
Equip decision makers with the data and evidence they need to assess drug-related harms
HRB programme manager for drug and alcohol research, Brian Galvin, said monitoring drug-related trends would “equip decision makers with the data and evidence they need to assess drug-related harms.”
“Combining our routine monitoring data with innovative approaches to observation, like this survey, will improve forecasting of drug use behaviour patterns to inform intervention and prevention strategies,” he said.
The survey will be open for Irish participation for a six-week period starting today, March 18th. The final results will be shared during the summer.
People can share their experiences and take part at www.drugs.ie/drugsurvey.
For information and support relating to your own or someone else’s drug use, go to www.drugs.ie, freephone the HSE helpline on 1800 459 459 Monday to Friday from 9.30am to 5.30pm, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.