Sinn Féin leader and Louth TD Gerry Adams has expressed his concern at figures released yesterday by the Health Research Board, which reveals a significant increase in the number of drug related deaths within the North Eastern Regional Task Force area.
According to the statistics, which relate to 2011, 41 people died in the North Eastern Regional Drugs Task Force as a result of poisoning by alcohol and/or other drugs. This is the highest level of deaths as a result of drug poisoning in any other region of the state.
Gerry Adams raised this issue in the Dáil today under Order of Business when he asked the Taoiseach when the government plans to publish the Sale of Alcohol Bill. He said:
“The statistics released yesterday by the Health Research Board make grim reading. The number of drug-related deaths in the state increased from 597 in 2010 to 607 in 2011. Over the eight year period from 2004 to 2011, 4,606 people died directly or indirectly as a result of drug use. This is a huge number of citizens dead and thousands of families and communities bereaved and in crisis.
“37% of these deaths involved alcohol. It played a part in more deaths than any other drug. 17% of all deaths involved alcohol alone.
“More than half of poisoning deaths (59%) involved more than one drug (polydrug use) and there was an increase in the percentage of deaths as a result of polydrug use. The drugs most frequently implicated in polydrug use are alcohol, diazepam, methadone and anti-depressant medication.
"There is also concern at the number of deaths arising as a consequence of prescription medication.
"The figures released by the Health Research Board are contained in the National Drug-Related Deaths Index (NDRDI).
"These statistics and the numbers of deaths involved must focus the government on the need for greater investment to improve services, develop effective programmes and save lives.
"I have met members of the North East Regional Drug Task Force. They are a dedicated group of activists working hard with inadequate resources to challenge a problem that is getting worse.
"Effectively tackling the drug addiction problem requires a holistic approach by all of the statutory bodies, including the Gardaí and local councils and government, and local communities, working to an agreed strategy.
"As part of any drug awareness strategy Sinn Féin is calling for the government to:
• Reinstate the Minister with responsibility for a National Drug Strategy
• Reverse cuts to community based drug projects
• Commit to expanding drug treatment services
• Work in partnership with the Executive and health and education departments and the PSNI in the north, to agree an all-island drug treatment & rehabilitation programme."
The report can be found at: