Cocaine has replaced ecstasy as the second most popular illicit drug among college students in Ireland, according to a new report.

The Drug Use in Higher Education Institutions (DUHEI) study analysed responses from 11,500 students across 21 Irish colleges, painting a stark picture of the scale of drug use among the country’s student population.

More than half of the student respondents admitted to using an illegal drug, with around a third saying they had used drugs in the last 12 months.

Addressing the issue

University College Cork (UCC) student health director and DUHEI lead, Dr Michael Byrne, said the survey would play a vital role in tackling drug use among Ireland’s students.

“Most students in higher education in Ireland do not take drugs regularly but a significant proportion do,” he said.

“If we are to work with our students and our institutions to address this issue, it is vital that we understand the reasons why our students choose to take drugs, or indeed choose not to take drugs; and to base our actions on data and evidence.

“This data will help inform policy and plans in this area for years to come.”

Somhairle Brennan, vice president for welfare at Union of Students in Ireland, added: “This report gives us a clear insight into drug use by students and enables us to shape proper supports based on need, and so we thank every student that shared their experiences for this research.”

Drug testing at AlphaBiolabs

We provide a range of services to local authorities and family law professionals across Ireland, including legal drug testing.

Workplace drug testing is also available for employers, while our home drug testing kits offer peace of mind for members of the public.

To find out more, call our Customer Services team on 01 402 9466 or email