Originally published in Volume III, Issue 5 on 5th December 1996 by Margaret Walsh.
A survey carried out by the University Observer has revealed that almost 72% of students claim to have taken illegal drugs. The majority of these, 69.8% say they have smoked cannabis, with over 28% using it regularly. 60.7% of those asked believed that cannabis should be legalised.
The survey also revealed that one in every five had taken Ecstasy, with over 8% of the total polled taking the drug on a regular basis. This is a figure that is sure to worry parents groups and the government, who has been spending much effort, and money, in trying to halt the spread of Ecstasy use among young people. However, the figures for LSD, speed and so-called Magic Mushrooms are on a similar level, with almost 20% claiming to have taken Mushrooms, only slightly more than those claiming to have experimented with LSD. 8.3% said they had tried cocaine.
24.2% of students said that they had their first encounter with drugs while in school, almost 8% more than the figure for a college encounter.
Perhaps most worrying for the UCD authorities, is the figure revealing that 80% of students believe drugs to be readily available in UCD. Stringent efforts have been made in the past few years by UCDSU, the Bar Committee and college authorities to crack down on drug use on campus. However, the results show that many students still believe that drugs are easily obtained here.
Commenting on the survey SU President, Shane Fitzgerald said “I am not hugely surprised by the cannabis figure and the Ecstasy figure is high, although not as high as the media might lead us to believe. I am, however, surprised, by the figure on the other drugs, as drugs like acid, one would have thought its popularity might have dropped in recent years.”
“What it does show is that the government needs to organise an effective drug awareness campaign that informs young people rather than patronise them.”
In relation to the figures saying that 80% of students believed that drugs were widely available on campus, Mr. Fitzgerald said “I believe that that figure is probably based on a popular misconception within UCD that drug dealers are crawling all over the campus. This is untrue as anybody involved in security on campus will tell you.”