Illegal drug use has become so common in Dublin that it is regarded as normal and not just the preserve of addicts, a new report states.

The study, by Dr Matt Bowden from the Technical University Dublin, is for the Citywide Drugs Crisis Campaign and includes interviews with seven activists involved in drug treatment and prevention.

The report says that opportunities must be created for young people to prevent them getting involved with drugs. At present, drug dealing is seen as a lucrative option by young people in an insecure job market and working in the so-called gig economy.

“For our participants, young people are faced with the choice between diminishing opportunities, zero-hours contracts: whereas drug selling and related work offers immediate access to the prizes of the consumer society”, said one interviewee.

Another youth worker believes drug use is now the preserve of ‘ordinary people’ who would not normally be expected to be associated with such drug use.

“There’s just a bigger selection of drugs available here, is the big difference right now, I would say”, he says. “It’s just a broader menu of things, of drugs … Maybe it’s because the weed is around, and hash is around and cocaine is around. All the benzos are around and they’re in big supply around here.”

As reported last week, opiates (mainly heroin) are the most common drug for which people require treatment; cannabis is the second, cocaine is the third and benzodiazepines are the fourth most common drug for which people require treatment.

Peer-to-peer drug selling

The research report, The Drug Economy and Youth Interventions: An Exploratory Research Project on Working with Young People involved in the Illegal Drugs Trade, identified the imperative need for young people to be given opportunities that take them away from drug markets, distribution and consumption.

“The current polydrug markets are providing an alternative stream of income and occupation that appear meaningful for young people, and our research participants all stressed the need to create opportunities and pathways to enable young people to make the transitions to both education and labour-market participation, with the chance to earn a decent living”, said Dr Bowden.

The research also highlighted that the young people involved in the drugs trade are neither out of control nor untouchable and that as a society it is worth investing in them and including them.

“The labour deal involves hard work, saving, deferred gratification, years of preparation to acquire qualifications and training, competitive labour markets and all without guarantees of stable employment”, one participant in the study said.

Citywide co-ordinator Anna Quigley said the notion of the big drug dealer in a community is outdated and young people are more likely to be involved in peer-to-peer drug selling.

She added: “The research highlights the need for drug awareness and prevention work to include education on how debt and credit work in the drugs economy. Threats and physical violence are the means used to recoup debts and systemic intimidation is a critical experience for young people and their communities as captured in the interviews.” For information on any of AlphaBiolabs’ drug testing solutions, including our home drug testing kit and Workplace Drug Testing, please call 0140 29466 or email us at

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