Published: 08 June 2022

Alcohol and other drug use among children and young people in Ireland: prevalence, risk and protective factors, consequences, responses, and policies

In most developed countries, substance use is a major public health issue, particularly among young people. Alcohol and other drug use is one of the leading risk factors for disease and injury and is also responsible for a considerable number of premature deaths. The National Drug Strategy in Ireland aims to prevent early substance use and to minimise harm for those who have already started to use substances. The strategy also plans to develop existing prevention programmes, with an emphasis on tackling risk factors for vulnerable groups and improving services for young people.

Using multiple information sources, this overview provides the reader with information about what is known from existing Irish literature and data sources about substance use among young people; to what extent young people are using alcohol and other drugs, and how this has changed over time; at what age they start using substances; the risk and protective factors that may encourage or deter substance use; the consequences of substance use; the responses to substance use; and the policies and legislation that exist to inform stakeholder decision-making to minimise substance use-related harm.

It is important that preventive measures and other interventions put in place to reduce the harm caused by young people’s substance use are based on sound evidence and that such measures are informed by an awareness of the current situation regarding the extent, nature, and consequences of this use.


  • Anne Doyle
  • Salome Sunday
  • Brian Galvin
  • Deirdre Mongan

Publication (PDF, 1 MB)

Publication (PDF, 1 MB)

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