- 15 Aug 22
The Syringe Analysis Pilot Project 2022 also confirms the arrival here of new designer drug, 3-Methylmethcathinone (3-MMC)
The re-emergence of cocaine injecting and the introduction of a new synthetic psychoactive substance, 3-Methylmethcathinone (3-MMC), to the Irish market have been confirmed by the HSE and Merchant Quay Ireland’s Syringe Analysis Pilot Project 2022.
Based on the testing of 155 used syringes in Dublin and the Midlands region, the pilot project found 3-MMC to be present in 11.3% of Dublin syringes and 23.6% of Midlands ones.
A designer drug that’s closely related to mephedrone, 3-MMC was first encountered in Sweden in 2012 and, before being banned in most territories, was sold as a ‘research chemical’ legal high.
3-MMC is just one of 32 different drugs and metabolites found in the syringes, which highlights the fact that street heroin and cocaine are almost always adulterated with other substances, meaning that users are never sure of what they’re taking.
Hot Press readers might remember the autopsy conducted after 2fm presenter Gerry Ryan died, which found the cocaine he’d taken had been cut with worming agent.
It's noticeable that fentanyl, which between 2015-2017 was the cause of 21 deaths in Ireland, wasn’t detected in any of the tested syringes.
Meanwhile, there’s been a significant re-emergence of cocaine injecting (86.5% Dublin/89.1% Midlands) as part of a pattern of polydrug use.
The report’s other key findings are:
Heroin was the most prominent injected drug (93.3% Dublin/98.2% Midlands)
Higher levels of Methamphetamine use (32.6% Dublin/18.2% Midlands)
Greater insight is needed on adulteration across the drug market
“The volatile nature of the drug market is a healthcare concern as new and more potent substances, including synthetic opioids continue to emerge on the European drug market,” reflects the Addiction Service’s National Clinical Lead, Professor Eamon Keenan. "I am pleased to see that this project did not identify the emergence of synthetic opioids in the syringe samples; however, we must continue to monitor this situation closely.
“Through this pilot project we have confirmed the presence of new psychoactive substances on the drug market and the re-emergence of cocaine injecting, these findings require tailored health responses and further monitoring.”
See the next issue of Hot Press for our in-depth interview with Dr. John Collins from the Vienna-based Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime.
- 18 Aug 22