The Department of Health has published the above bulletin on drug prevalence in the north of Ireland. It includes analyses broken down by gender and age for each Health and Social Care Trust (HSCT).
The Drug Prevalence Survey records drug use across three prevalence periods, over the last month, over the last year and throughout the respondents’ lifetime.
- the prevalence rate for use of any illegal drug was highest in the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust (HSCT) (36.4%) and lowest in the Western HSCT (22.3%)
- Cannabis was the main drug of misuse across all Trust areas, with the prevalence rate being highest in the Belfast HSCT (32.1%) and lowest in the Southern HSCT (19.7%)
- the proportion of respondents who had ever taken cocaine in the Belfast HSCT (11.0%) was double that in the Western HSCT (4.9%) and Southern HSCT (5.6%)
- the proportion taking new psychoactive substances in the Belfast HSCT (5.4%) was over five times that of the Southern HSCT (0.8%)
- use of anti-depressants and anabolic steroids was broadly similar across all Trust areas
- the proportion of respondents taking other opiates in the Belfast HSCT (28.6%) was twice that of the Western HSCT (15.2%)
Last Year Prevalence
- there were no significant differences between HSCTs in relation to the use of cannabis, ecstasy, cocaine (including crack), cocaine, amphetamines, new psychoactive substances and heroin over the last year
- the proportion of respondents taking any illegal drug was lowest in the Northern HSCT (4.5%) and highest in the Belfast HSCT (8.8%)
- the proportion who had taken other opiates was highest in the South Eastern HSCT (15.7%) and lowest in the Western HSCT (6.1%)
- there was no significant difference in the use over the last year of anti-depressants, sedatives, anabolic steroids and methadone across HSCTs
Last Month Prevalence
- last month prevalence for any illegal drug was highest in the Belfast HSCT (4.8%) and lowest in the Northern HSCT (1.7%)
- with the exception of new psychoactive substances, there were no significant differences in relation to the use of the listed illegal drugs between Trusts
- no significant differences were found in the prevalence of sedatives or tranquillisers, anti-depressants, anabolic steroids or methadone usage across Trusts
- South Eastern HSCT (8.2%) had the highest consumption level of other opiates while Southern HSCT (2.8%) had the lowest
Notes to editors:
1.The 2014/15 Drug Prevalence Survey in the north and south of Ireland was commissioned jointly by the Department of Health and the National Advisory Committee on Drugs and Alcohol in the South of Ireland.
Joint bulletins with the National Advisory Committee on Drugs and Alcohol (NACDA) in South of Ireland are planned for publication.
This survey has previously been conducted in 2002/03, 2006/07 and 2010/11.
2. The questionnaire and methodology for this general population survey were based on best practice guidelines drawn up by the EMCDDA. The questionnaires were administered through face-to-face interviews (with Computer Assisted Personal Interviews (CAPI)) with respondents aged between 15 and 64 years and who are normally resident in households in the north of Ireland. Therefore persons outside these age ranges, or who do not normally live in private households, have not been included in the survey (for example prisons, nursing homes etc.).
3. Fieldwork for the survey was carried out between October 2014 and May 2015 and the final achieved sample was 2,511. The response rate for the survey was 68%.
4. In the north of Ireland, the achieved sample was weighted by gender, age and Health and Social Care Trust area to maximise its representativeness of the population.
5. Further information on drug prevalence in Northern Ireland is available at:
Public Health Information and Research Branch
Department of Health
Annexe 2, Castle Buildings
Stormont, BT4 3SQ
Tel: 028 90 522607
Fax: 028 90 523288
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