People are dying every day from drug overdoses
Figures released by the Health Research Board show that over one person per day died from a drug overdose in 2013, with 387 recorded OD deaths.
“Every death by overdose is one family’s devastating tragedy,: reflects Tony Duffin, Director of the Ana Liffey Project. "Sadly, overdose continues to be an issue in Ireland, with far more people dying by overdose than are dying on our roads every year. In the five year period 2009 to 2013 over 1,500 people have died by overdose across Ireland. We must implement policies that will help reduce the number of deaths each year.”
As previously reported in Hot Press, Duffin has briefed Minister Aodhán O’Ríordáin about the urgent need for Medically Supervised Injecting Centres for heroin-users. With cross-party support for the centres, they should become a reality in the New Year regardless of how the general election pans out. There’s also a pilot programme in place to make Naloxone, a drug which reverses the effects of opiate intoxification, more widely available.
“Both Ministers Varadkar and O’Ríordáin are to be commended for their leadership on issues in drug policy in Ireland, particularly in the context of Medically Supervised Injecting Centres and Naloxone provision,” Duffin continues. “Ireland is drawing international attention for our leadership in these areas, and rightly so. However, more needs to be done. Ana Liffey are supported by the HSE and other state bodies to carry out overdose awareness work at traditionally risky times of year, including Christmas, but there is no overarching national strategy. We need to have a National Overdose Prevention Strategy, with clear targets aimed at reducing overdose. This is particularly clear as the Health Research Board note that over 40% of people who died where heroin was implicated were not alone at the time they took the drug, meaning chances to prevent death may have been missed. Far more people die by overdose than die on the roads. There are parents who will face the New Year having lost a child to overdose. We need an extraordinary effort.”
The Health Research Board report also reveals a staggering 98% increase since 2004 of deaths from polydrug use.
“It is commonly known that our current systems were established when heroin use was the predominant issue,” he concludes. “Nowadays, most problem drug users are polydrug users. We need flexible services that can adapt to suit the needs of those presenting. And people are presenting with multiple and complex health needs. We need to deal with that – particularly making residential treatment more accessible – if we want to see overdose deaths begin to reduce in Ireland.”
You can help shed further light on Irish drug use, both legal and illegal, by taking the 15 minutes necessary to complete the [link]www.globaldrugsurvey.com/GDS2016/survey.php[/link]
Hot Press is the official Irish partner for the GDS, which is taking place globally with in excess of 100,000 people expected to participate.
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