The use of illegal stimulant drugs such as cocaine, ecstasy and poppers has increased, according to a new survey.

The Health Research Board study found that cocaine use among males has risen to nearly one in ten for the 25 to 34-year-old age group.

Overall, it found that nearly one in four Irish people aged 15 to 64 - equivalent to nearly 900,000 people - have tried illegal drugs in their lifetime.

However, the National Drug and Alcohol Survey 2019-2020 does not include groups such as prisoners or the homeless, who may be more likely to use drugs.

Although the number of people who have tried illegal drugs in the past year has remained around the same since the last survey at around 7%, there have been large proportional increases in use of drugs such as poppers, amphetamines, LSD and cocaine alongside a small reduction in cannabis use.

Use of amphetamines in the past year has quadrupled from 0.2% to 0.8% of the adult population since the 2014-2015 survey, while the use of poppers has gone up from 0.5% to 1.4% with LSD up from 0.2% to 0.9% and cocaine up from 1.2% to 1.9%.

Cannabis use is down from 6.5% to 5.9% and the survey found that while 90% of respondents favour the use of cannabis for medical purposes, only around 30% support recreational use.

Men are twice as likely to try illegal drugs than women overall - 10% compared to under 5%. For males aged between 15 and 24 years old, usage has increased from 9% in 2002-03 to 26% in the latest survey.

However, usage of drugs by women aged 15 - 24 has doubled from 8% to 16% since 2002-03.

The rate of poly drug use has also increased with 25% of respondents saying they had used at least three different drugs in the past year compared to just 15% in 2014-15.

Those renting or living with their parents and living in Dublin were the most likely to be using drugs.

Deprived communities were disproportionately affected by drug use or drug dealing with it being a "big" or "very big" problem in 44% of the most deprived areas compared to only 20% in the least deprived.

Welcoming the report, Frank Feighan, Minister of State for Public Health, Wellbeing and the National Drugs Strategy, also said: "While it is positive to see the overall use of illegal drugs remain at a stable level, there are worrying trends regarding the increase in the use of cocaine, ecstasy, and the prevalence of polydrug use.

"These trends will be addressed as part of the mid-term review of our National Drugs Strategy."

He added: "The increase in the use of ecstasy underlines the need for effective harm reduction measures which make our night-time economy a safer place.

"The Department of Health has provided funding to the HSE to develop a national harm reduction campaign to raise awareness of the risks associated with drug use which will be publicly available later this year."