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Latest drug-related deaths figures

12 December 2017

Almost two people died each day in Ireland during 2015 as a result of poisoning, trauma or medical causes linked to drug use according to the latest figures from the Health Research Board (HRB).

Drug-related deaths in 2015

This represents almost 20,000 potential life years lost* in just one year. A total of 695 people died in 2015 compared to 431 in 2004 - this represents an increase of 61%. There have been 7,422 deaths among people who use drugs since 2004.

According to Dr Mairead O Driscoll, Interim Chief Executive at the HRB,

‘The number of deaths involving prescription drugs or cocktails of different drugs remains high. Mixing drugs increases the risk of death, which is clearly reflected in these figures. This year we continue to see an increase in the number of poisonings from cocaine’.

‘While the number of deaths from alcohol decreased slightly this year, alcohol remains the number one drug implicated in deaths, alone or with other drugs, over the reporting period. Alcohol was implicated in almost one-in-three poisoning deaths during 2015’.

The Health Research Board reports on poisonings deaths (also known as overdose) which are due to the toxic effect of a drug, or combination of drugs, and on non-poisonings which are deaths as a result of trauma, such as hanging, or medical reasons, such as cardiac events, among people who use drugs.

Key findings – all deaths 2015
  • There were 695 deaths in 2015, slightly lower than the number reported in 2014 (719).
  • Many of these deaths were premature – half of all deaths in 2015 were aged 41 years or younger.
  • 20,000 potential life years were lost* because of drug-related deaths.
  • Almost three-in-four (503) of all deaths were male.
  • A total of 8% (54) of all NDRDI deaths were among injectors and 52% (28) of injectors died in Dublin City.

Full details are available from the HRB press release at the link below.

* Potential life years lost was calculated by looking at the age of individuals who died in 2015 and what their life expectancy would have been based on their year of birth. Note: The 2015 figures are likely to be revised upwards when new data become available from closed inquest files.

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