Drug overdoses increase in Dublin and Cork

File photo.
By Cormac O'Keeffe
Security Correspondent

Drug overdoses have risen in Dublin and Cork, in contrast to a national downward trend, official figures show.

And non-overdose drug-related deaths, such as suicides and medical fatalities, have risen in Dublin, with significant increases also in Kildare, Tipperary and Meath.

Breakdown details by county and by local drug task force areas emerged today following the publication of national data by the Health Research Board yesterday.

The national figures showed that the total number of drug-related deaths reached a new high in 2016 (the most recent year for which figures are available), with 736 fatalities.

It was just one higher than the previous year, but marks a continuing, steady rise in drug deaths over the last 13 years, when records began.

Drug fatalities have risen from 431 in 2004, to 629 in 2008, to 661 in 2012 and to 736 in 2016.

Deaths are broken down between poisonings (overdoses) and non-poisoning, which refers to deaths caused by trauma (such as hangings, drownings, road traffic crashes and shootings/stabbings) and medical causes (such as cardiac events, liver disease and cancer).

The National Drug Related Deaths Index showed that there were 354 poisonings in 2016, compared to 365 in 2015, continuing a downward trend since 2013 (400).

A number of counties have gone against that trend and witnessed a rise in overdose deaths: Dublin (140 to 155); Cork (34 to 41); Kildare (12 to 14), Limerick (12 to 14), Kerry (9 to 12) and Cavan (less than 5 to 9).

Counties that saw a significant decrease include Tipperary (19 to 8), Carlow (10 to 5) and Waterford (17 to less than 5).

National figures for non-overdose deaths show there were 382 such deaths in 2016, up from 370 in 2015. Non-overdose deaths have risen by 130% since 2004.

The index shows that certain counties have seen the largest increases: Dublin (191 to 200); Kildare (7 to 15); Tipperary (9 to 14); Meath (5 to 11) and Westmeath (5 to 8).

There were decreases in many counties, including Wexford (10 to 7), Clare (9 to 5) and Louth (11 to less than 5).

The Cork figure dropped slightly (34 to 32).

Speaking after the publication of the index, drugs strategy minister Catherine Byrne said the 2016 figures were “deeply concerning” and represented a tragic loss of life and were a “stark reminder of the devastating impact” of drugs on families and communities.

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