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Safer Student Nights


Safer Student Nights Initiative - February to April 2024

The HSE and Union of Students in Ireland are partnering to continue the annual Safer Student Nights online campaign to remind students to think about harm reduction measures if they choose to use drugs on a night out.

‘Safer Student Nights’ is an annual campaign that aims to make students aware of the current drug trends, risks and risk reduction. Through this campaign, we will share key messages aimed at students during February – April 2024.

It is always safer not to use at all and risks can increase based on the type of drug, its contents and strength, personal factors such as a person’s physical and mental health and the setting drugs are used.

Current drug trends of concern for third-level students

The MDMA market:

From our ‘Safer Nightlife’ Programme', we know that MDMA products can vary in strength, from lower to higher doses. Products can look the same but contain different contents. Therefore comparing pills/powders on past experience, online forms or pictures may not help guarantee the contents of the product you have.

We found that products can be high strength in Ireland, this means that it could be easier to take too much without knowing, which could lead to a medical emergency.

The cannabis market

There is a risk of drugs known as ‘synthetic cannabinoids’ appearing in herbal (plant material),vape/liquid, edibles sold as THC products in Ireland. A number of these substances have been found in Ireland, with 50% of edibles seized and analysed by Forensic Science Ireland found to contain these substances and not THC.


Ketamine use is increasing in Ireland among the student population and people who attend nightlife events such as festivals. Through our festival outreach, we found that people were unaware of the short and long term effects of ketamine and were experiencing negative mental health experiences, were becoming unwell and having seizures after use. Long term and frequent use can lead to both bladder and mental health concerns.

Reduce the harms

It's always safer not to use and some people may be at greater risk due to personal factors such as their physical or mental health status which is unique to them. Avoid use if you have underlying conditions, mental health concerns, a family history of mental health concerns or if you are feeling low, depressed or anxious. This can increase the risks for you.

How you can take part

Get support

Find a local support service through the National Directory of Drug and Alcohol Services

For information and support on drugs and alcohol visit The HSE Drugs & Alcohol Helpline can be reached on  freephone 1800 459 459 from Monday – Friday 9:30 – 5:30pm or email 

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The HSE and Union of Students in Ireland (USI) ask students to think about drug safety measures when using club drugs
Harm reduction messages from the #SaferStudentNights campaign.
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