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Irish youths' legal-high use treble EU rate

The use of designer drugs among Ireland's teenagers and young adults is approaching three times the EU rate.

Some 22pc of Irish people aged 15 to 24 consumed the so-called legal highs in the 30 days prior to a new survey, an increase of 6pc in three years, according to research sponsored by the European Commission.

It compares to an 8pc rate across the EU in general, up from 5pc in 2011.

Legal highs are substances that imitate the effects of ecstasy, cocaine, heroin and other drugs.

More than 13,000 people in Europe were interviewed for the Eurobarometer Young People and Drugs survey, including 500 in Ireland.

Some 16pc here admitted to using cannabis in the previous 30 days, an increase of 7pc since 2011.

That compares to a 7pc rate across the EU, which was a 1pc increase since the last survey.

Young Irish people are also less inclined to consider the risks of taking cannabis.

Some 63pc of young Europeans perceive regular use of the drug to be dangerous, while only 46pc of young Irish people have the same opinion, a decrease of 6pc in three years.

dangers

In addition, 57pc of Europeans believe regular alcohol intake to be perilous.

That compares to a rate of 42pc in Ireland. However, this was an increase of 11pc on the last survey, indicating that there is a greater appreciation of the dangers.

Opinions on bans on substances such as heroin, cocaine and ecstasy are similar across Irish and European youths at around 90pc.

Some 53pc of young Europeans are in favour of a prohibition on cannabis. The figure is 43pc in Ireland, a decline of 9pc since 2011.

Meanwhile, 56pc of young Irish people think cannabis should be regulated, an increase of 15pc.

Attitudes among young adults towards tobacco use is hardening, with 23pc saying it should banned, up 6pc.

Some 49pc of young Irish people believe tough measures against drug traffickers and dealers are effective.

Legal highs have become increasingly popular, and the EC is working to strengthen Europe's ability to "protect young people by reducing the availability of harmful substances".

comurphy@herald.ie


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