Northern Ireland drug deaths reach record level

NI Drug deaths reach record level

A recent report released by Stormont Executives shows that drug related deaths in Northern Ireland has jumped 40% from 2017.

The number of drug-related deaths in Northern Ireland soared to 189 last year. Figures from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) show that half of the deaths involved three or more drugs. Heroin and morphine were connected to 40 of the deaths, the highest number on record. This increase comes despite numerous calls from health officials not to mix drugs.

Belfast SDLP councillor Paul McCusker has called for action to be taken.

“Failure to provide immediate treatment and pathways that aren’t working are costing lives,” he said. This isn’t acceptable and it proves that a drug task force is needed to help reduce deaths. We can no longer wait.”

The latest figures show the alarming rate of increase of drug consumption in Northern Ireland. In November 2019, there was a reported 7 deaths from drug overdoses in just 10 days.

Highest level on record

 Figures show that half of the 189 deaths were men ages 25-44. Drug-related deaths involving cocaine increased to the highest level on record from 13 in 2017 to 28 in 2018.

Pregabalin appeared in 28.6% of all drug related deaths. Almost 23% per cent of all drug-related deaths in 2018 also mentioned alcohol on the death certificate, a proportion which has remained relatively consistent over the last five years.

Men accounted for 70.04% of all those killed by drugs in NI last year. But the rates for both men and women dying this way have increased per 100,000.

In 2017 11 men per 100,000 were killed by drugs, this rose to 14.4 in 2018. The same number for women jumped from 3.7 per 100,000 females to 5.9. Of the 189 drug-related deaths in 2018, 72 (38.1%) were aged 25-34 with a further 50 (26.5%) in the 35-44 age group.

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