USI launches harm reduction campaign targeting users of psychoactive substances

The campaign comes in light of figures showing consumption levels in Ireland are highest in Europe

Credit: Tanjila Ahmed


The Union of Students of Ireland (USI), in cooperation with and the Health Service Executive (HSE) have launched a new campaign targeting people who consume new psychoactive substances (NSP). The harm reduction campaign was launched in the Institute of Technology Tallaght, and is the first phase of an ongoing campaign to provide harm reduction information to students.

The campaign comes after studies showed that the consumption of psychoactive drugs in the 15-24 age demographic in Ireland is the highest in Europe at 22% lifetime use. Figures from 2015 also show that consumption among 15-16 year olds is 7%, compared to a European average of 4%. The initial phase of the campaign focuses on two specific drugs, MMDA and ketamine. As part of the campaign, two posters have been designed to provide harm reduction advice and information on accessing support.

On the launch of the campaign Annie Hoey, Union of Students in Ireland (USI) President, said that the USI is delighted to be working closely with the HSE and on the campaign. “Ongoing use of a variety of substances by young people and students has rightly attracted attention and concern due to the significant number of physical and psychological side effects associated with their use. As such, it’s important for us to ensure that students’ relationships with substances [are] as safe as possible.”

Emphasising the importance of safety when consuming drugs, she continued: “taking illegal and unknown substances is unsafe. We are urging students to be vigilant against unknown substances, and if anyone decides to take drugs, following a harm reduction regime is crucial.”

Also addressing the harm reduction campaign, Dr. Eamon Keenan, HSE National Clinical Lead for addiction services said: “The HSE is partnering with the USI to target students and young people with an appropriate harm reduction message. It is always safer not to use illegal drugs and we advise people not to use, however we have a duty to reduce harm and protect young peoples’ health. The key messages that we need to get to people is to stay safe and to be aware of the strength of the drugs they are taking.”

Anyone seeking support for substance abuse problems is encouraged to contact the HSE Drug/Alcohol helpline on Freephone 1800 459 459, 9.30am – 5.30pm Monday–Friday. E-mail support is also available via [email protected].