By Lucy Peoples
With the return of RAG week, student safety is considered with more prominence as students around Ireland will engage in activities involving alcohol and, in some cases, drugs.
In relation to the drug policy in Ireland, there will be a citizen’s assembly in the coming months regarding changes that may be made to the country’s approach to drug safety and legislation.
Decriminalization of drugs and a re-education on the harmful effects of certain substances are rumoured to be among the government’s considered new approach: ‘A health-led response to drug and alcohol use in Ireland 2017-2025’.
Hildegarde Naughton, Minister for Public Health, Wellbeing and the National Drugs Strategy said in a public statement:
“As Minister with responsibility for this issue, I am committed to supporting the National Drugs Strategy, Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery”.
“It promotes a more compassionate and humane approach to people who use drugs, with drug use treated first and foremost as a public health issue”, she says.
“The Government is committed to establishing a citizen’s assembly on drug use in the very near future. I believe that this is an important conversation that we must have in advance of any policy change”, says Naughton.
Safer Student Nights Campaign
Union of Students in Ireland (USI) Vice President Sarah Behan says that the key to safety in relation to drug harm awareness is education.
“What we want to do is to educate people”, says Behan.
“There seems to be this shame around talking about it in Irish culture and I think it’s a conversation that not a lot of people are ready to have but drug-taking among young people would be quite high”, she says.
Behan talks about the Safer Student Nights campaign. It informs people on how to look after themselves if they are going to be in a situation where they will be taking drugs.
“#SaferStudentNights is just asking students to think about drug safety measures”, says Behan.
“Cocaine, MDMA and Ketamine are the most common among the student population”.
“So with the harm reduction approach, if we’re able to keep up to date with drug trends and give students information, that would be our main goal”, she says.
“They would be able to monitor their drug use – we have information on our social media and have been working alongside drugs.ie for Safer Student Nights”, says Behan.
For more information on the Safer Student Nights campaign, click here.