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Death by drugs puts Ireland on shame list

Ireland has one of the worst levels of drug-related deaths in Europe, it has emerged.

A United Nations (UN) report on the global drug market showed Ukraine, Iceland and Ireland have the highest mortality rates in Europe, with over 100 drug-related deaths per million inhabitants aged between 15 and 64.

Heroin is predominantly ranked as the primary cause of death followed by cocaine, at much lower levels.

There are an estimated 20,000 heroin addicts in Ireland, with almost two-thirds in the greater Dublin area.

Tony Geoghegan, of Merchants Quay Ireland, said he was not shocked that Ireland had the sixth highest rate of heroin use in 2009 -- half the levels seen in Scotland and Estonia.

The World Drug Report also revealed heroin use rose in Ireland and Sweden last year, while the problem stabilised in most other European countries.