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Drug-related deaths

20 December 2016

The latest figures from the Health Research Board (HRB) show that almost two people died each day in Ireland during 2014 as a result of poisoning, trauma or medical causes linked to drug use.

A total of 697* people died in 2014 compared to 431 in 2004 – this represents an increase of 62%.

According to Dr Graham Love, Chief Executive at the HRB,

‘It is not just illicit drugs that are resulting in death. Over time we are seeing a rise in the number of deaths involving prescription drugs and cocktails of different drugs. Alcohol is also implicated in one in three deaths. Mixing drugs increases the risk of death, which is clearly reflected in these figures’.

Key findings  

There have been 6,697 deaths among people who use drugs since 2004.

  • Prescription drugs were implicated in 259, or three in every four, poisonings during 2014.
  • 235 or two in every three people died in 2014 because they took a mixture of drugs, with an average of four drugs involved. Benzodiazepines were the most common drug group involved in poly drug deaths.
  • Notwithstanding a small decrease in alcohol poisonings, alcohol is still implicated in one-in-three deaths and remains the single most common drug implicated in deaths over the reporting period 2004-2014.
  • Opiates were the main drug group implicated in poisonings.
  • Hanging was the main cause of non-poisoning deaths. There was a 21% increase in deaths due to hanging between 2013 and 2014.

You can read more in the HRB press release - link below. There are also links to the HRB report itself and a number of downloadable infographic files.

*The 2014 figures are likely to be revised upwards when new data become available from closed inquest files.

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