Gardaí are calling on students to ‘Rise Above The Influence’ and avoid taking drugs ahead of Freshers’ Week as students return to campuses around the country.
The initiative is part of An Garda Síochána’s Campus Watch programme, to increase awareness in students of the dangers of taking drugs and to seek out positive influences.
Last year, more than 2,500 people under the age of 24 entered drug treatment in Ireland, figures released by gardaí show.
Close to 700 people under 18 sought treatment, with cannabis being their main “problem drug”.
Close to 1,900 people between the ages of 18 – 24 entered drug treatment with over 60pc using more than one drug. Gardaí said 53 below the age of 24 died from a drug-related illness in 2017.
Detective Superintendent Sé McCormack of the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau said: “Freshers’ Week should be a time for celebration, the beginning of something good in your life. Don’t let drug use end your career before it starts.
“If you use drugs such as Cannabis, Cocaine, Ketamine and MDMA, you are committing a criminal offence and also risking addiction, loss of career opportunities, under-achievement, and international travel restrictions. Taking other substances like cannabis edibles, jellies, sweets, drinks, vapes, or synthetic cannabinoids or nitrous oxide balloons also carries health and prosecution risks,” Det. Supt. McCormack said.
Gardaí are also cautioning students on the dangers of taking non-prescribed ‘study’ drugs or sleeping pills that can lead to anxiety, addiction and psychosis.
Multiple or Poly-drug use is extremely dangerous and increases your risk of overdose or death, Gardaí said.
Gardaí said that while they strive to keep people safe, they believe that students can also help keep themselves safe.
“Contact the emergency services if you become ill after consuming a drug or are in the presence of somebody who may be ill,” a Garda spokesperson said.
“Our ‘Rise above the influence’ message is simple. Your future is in your hands. Seek out positive influences on Campus. Choose the influences which will enhance your future career. Make responsible decisions for yourself and be aware of those around you. Don’t become another victim of the drug trade.
“Drug use can lead to addiction, debt, prison and the destruction of your physical and mental health. You don’t know what you’re taking. You don’t know where it will take you,” Det. Supt. McCormack said.
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