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Further survey needed for accurate reflection of drug use in UL

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By Seamus Toomey

 

The Clubs and Societies office held a survey last year. One of the many questions in this survey was “Do you use recreational drugs?”. The response by 781 students (approx. 92% of people surveyed) was 13.8% Yes and 86.2% No.

 

Perhaps it is as simple as the statistics are correct and UL doesn’t have a drug problem but from anecdotal experience I would highly doubt that it’s as few as 13.8% of students in this college have taken drugs in the last year, let alone those who have ever taken drugs. Yes I made a distinction, I said have ever taken drugs in the past year and this brings me on to my second point.

 

The problem could be that the question was worded poorly. I would suggest: “Have you ever taken or used illegal drugs?” This might have presented a different result to the question on drug use among the UL population.

 

The problem with the original question being that it appeared to ask about someone who is using drugs as opposed to if someone has used drugs recently, which I believe could massively affect the statistics.

 

People rarely regard themselves as drug users and just because someone uses drugs this does not mean it’s regular, leading one to answer “no” to the question posed last semester. With that being said the next two questions did ask about which drugs people used and also how frequently but I still firmly believe if phrased differently the first question would have gotten very different results.

 

By simply changing how you define drug use, this potentially could massively affect the results. Is a drug-user someone who is and currently plans to continue their drug use or someone who has used drugs at any stage in the past year, or could we go so far as to say a drug user is someone who has ever used illegal drugs?

 

I would like to see how much this affects the statistics. A simple time frame included with the survey could allow for a particularly informing insight.

 

Another possible cause of the low numbers of self-reported drug-users could simply be people still not wishing to share their drug use with anyone, regardless of anonymity. So in my opinion we don’t accurately know what the percentage of drug use is in UL and if a survey goes ahead next semester we may gain a better understanding and I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a large change in the figures.

 

*An Focal in no way condones the use of illegal drugs. The content in relation to drug and alcohol use in this article relate to UL’s Alcohol and Drugs Awareness Week and is solely intended to illustrate opinions and promote discussion. Nothing in this article should in any form be taken as an endorsement of any illegal or unhealthy activity involving drugs or alcohol.

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