Saturday 22 October 2016

Alcohol poisoning claiming one life a week, study shows

Alcohol has been linked to a large number of deaths
Alcohol has been linked to a large number of deaths

Alcohol poisoning kills one person every week in Ireland, new figures show.

Statistics from the Health Research Board (HRB) show that alcohol is implicated in more overdose deaths than any other single drug.

The HRB report on drug-related deaths revealed that nearly two people died each day from poisoning, trauma or medical causes linked with drug use during 2013 - with a total of 679 deaths recorded.

There have been 6,002 deaths among people who used drugs in the past decade, according to the HRB.

Alcohol was implicated in one in three (137) of all poisoning deaths in 2013.


A total of 234 people (60pc) died that year because they took a mixture of drugs. "Taking a combination of drugs - for example, alcohol and benzodiazepines - is more dangerous," the expert body said.

Some 86 overdose deaths were heroin related, and in almost 50pc of these cases, the user was injecting at the time.

Speaking at the launch of the report, Minister of State for Drugs Aodhan O Riordain expressed his concern about the increase in heroin deaths and, in particular, heroin deaths linked to injecting.

"There are no easy solutions to addressing what is a very complex problem.

"That's why the Government has taken a number of actions to reduce drug-related deaths, including the expansion of needle exchange services and making naloxone for the treatment of opiate overdose more widely available. I believe lives will be saved as a result of these initiatives," Mr O Riordan said.

Meanwhile, HRB chief executive Graham Love said it was not just people who use illegal drugs that are dying.

"Alcohol is implicated in more poisoning deaths than any other single drug, and alcohol poisonings alone claim one life per week.

"Mixing drugs is another dangerous behaviour that is resulting in death. For example, 80pc of drugs implicated along with alcohol were prescription drugs," said Mr Love.

Among the key findings of the report were that almost seven in 10 deaths from an overdose occurred in men.

Methadone was implicated in a quarter of poisonings - similar to the previous year's figure.

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