Attitudes and perceived risk of cannabis use in Irish adolescents
- 296 Downloads
Cannabis is the most widely used illicit drug in the developed world and its use is associated with several adverse physical and mental health effects and negative social outcomes. Earlier use of cannabis increases the risk of adverse effects. Attitudes and perceived risk towards drugs are regarded as strong influences in determining whether or not a person uses cannabis, but there is little existing research on Irish teenagers’ attitudes to the risks of this drug.
This was a descriptive, cross-sectional study using a structured, anonymous questionnaire. The study was undertaken in nine public and private secondary schools in Cork City and suburbs. Students aged 15–18 and in fourth, fifth or sixth year of school were included.
Of the 507 participating students, 39.3 % (n = 199) reported previous cannabis use. There were significantly lower levels of perceived risk of cannabis among those who had used the drug compared with those who had not, for all categories of risk (p < 0.01). Attitudes towards cannabis were more liberal among males and those with previous use of the drug. A minority of students (n = 92; 18.2 %) support legalisation of cannabis. The majority of teenagers (n = 382; 75.8 %) believe that they are not given enough information about the drug.
Cannabis use is very widespread among teenagers in Cork. There are relatively low levels of perceived risk of mental and physical health problems with use of the drug. Attitudes towards cannabis are associated with personal use of the drug and gender.
KeywordsCannabis Marijuana Attitudes Risk Teenagers Adolescents Ireland
We would like to thank the principals, teachers, and students who were involved in this study and made the data collection possible. Our appreciation also goes to staff at the School of Medicine, University College Cork, for their assistance and advice, particularly to Prof. Geraldine Boylan, Dr. Louise Burgoyne, and Dr. Kieran Doran.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
We declare no conflicts of interest. This research was approved by the Clinical Research Ethics Committee of the Cork Teaching Hospitals.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
- 5.National Advisory Committee on Drugs and Alcohol. Drug use in Ireland and Northern Ireland 2010/11 Drug Prevalence Survey: Cannabis Results. Dublin, Ireland. NACDA. (2013)Google Scholar
- 6.European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. Annual report 2007: the state of the drugs problem in Europe. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities. (2007)Google Scholar
- 7.European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs. The 2003 ESPAD Report-Alcohol and Other Drug Use Among Students in 35 European Countries. Hibell B, Andersson A, Bjarnason T et al. Stockholm, Sweden. The Swedish Council for Information on Alcohol and Other Drugs. (2004)Google Scholar
- 13.Mayock P (2000) Choosers or losers? Influences on young people’s choices about drugs in innercity Dublin. The Children’s Research Centre, Trinity College, DublinGoogle Scholar
- 14.National Task Force on Cannabis. National Drug Strategy Monograph Series No. 29. Public perceptions of the health and psychological consequences of cannabis use. Hall W, Nelson J. Canberra, Australia. Dept. of Health and Ageing. (1995)Google Scholar
- 15.Jackson TMR (2006) Smoking, alcohol and drug use in Cork and Kerry 2004. Cork: Dept. Public Health, HSE SouthGoogle Scholar
- 16.National Advisory Committee on Drugs. An overview of scientific and other information on cannabis. Collins C, Connolly J, Crowley D, Morgan M. Dublin, Ireland. NACD (2004)Google Scholar
- 18.Department of Education and Science. Junior Cycle Social, Personal and Health Education. Government of Ireland, Dublin. 2000. http://www.education.ie/en/Schools-Colleges/Information/Curriculum-and-Syllabus/Junior-Cycle-/Syllabuses-Guidelines/jc_sphe_sy.pdf Accessed 19 Feb 2015
- 19.European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs. The 2007 ESPAD Report—substance use among students in 35 European countries. Hibell B, Guttomsson U, Ahlstrom S, et al. Stockholm, Sweden. The Swedish Council for information on alcohol and other drugs (2009)Google Scholar
- 21.Institute for Social Research. Monitoring the Future national survey results on drug use, 1975–2008. Volume I: Secondary school students. Johnston LD, O’Malley PM, Bachman JG, Schulenberg JE. Bethesda, MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse (2009)Google Scholar