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Latest figures on treated drug use in Ireland 2009 – 2015

10 May 2017

HRB figures show that a total of 61,439 cases were treated for problem drug use in Ireland between 2009 and 2015. Treated cases increased from 7,479 cases in 2009, to 9,892 in 2015.

Commenting on some of the trends over time, Dr Suzi Lyons, Senior Researcher at the HRB said;

‘Overall numbers of cases continued to increase until 2014 and then stabilised in 2015. However there are changes related to types of drugs reported and a decrease in new cases presenting for treatment’.  

‘Looking at the types of drugs first - opiates remained the main problem drug for treated cases over the period, however they decreased as a proportion of all cases treated. In 2009, more than 6 out of 10 cases reported opiates as their main problem, while in 2015 less than five in 10 cases reported opiates.  But we can see from the figures that other drugs have increased,  mainly cannabis and benzodiazepines’.  

‘Cases treated for benzodiazepines as their main problem drug almost trebled from 306 in 2009, to 873 in 2015. There was also an increase in cases where benzodiazepines were an additional problem drug. In 2009 there were 1,451 cases taking benzodiazepines as an additional drug and it was the fourth most common additional drug. In 2015 this had increased to 2,258 cases and it had become the first most common additional drug,’ explains Dr Lyons. 

‘Reported problem use of new psychoactive substance cases peaked in 2010 at 2.5% of all cases, but dropped to 0.4% of all cases in 2012, reflecting new legislation around Head Shops. There has been a slight increase in 2015 to 0.9%.

‘The figures also show a decrease in the proportion of new cases, or people presenting for treatment for the first time.  However, this means there has been an increase in the proportion of previously treated cases, or people returning for treatment, which is an indicator of the chronic, relapsing nature of addiction’.

Key findings are available in the press release or the publication itself at the links below.


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