Drug Deaths Outside Dublin on The Up

The number of direct drug-related deaths in Dublin fell significantly between 2000 and 2003. However the number of such deaths outside of Dublin increased during the same period, figures have shown. According to the Health Research Board’s (HRB) Drug Misuse Research Division, there were around 900 direct drug-related deaths in Ireland between 1980 and 2003. (‘Direct’ drug-related deaths are those occurring as a result of overdose, both intentional and unintentional.)

The figures show that in the 1980s, there were few drug-related deaths, peaking at 20 in 1985. This was followed by a small but steady increase in the early 1990s and then a substantial increase in the late 1990s. In 1999 alone, 122 people died.

These numbers then started to decline – in 2002, 90 people died. However by the following year, this figure was on the rise again, with 96 deaths recorded.

The figures show that almost all direct drug-related deaths between 1980 and 1994 occurred in Dublin.

Furthermore, between 1995 and 1999, Dublin saw a ‘substantial increase’ in such deaths (from 33 to 96). However during this period, there was also a steady increase in direct drug-related deaths outside of Dublin, from three to 26.

Between 2000 and 2003, there was a sharp decline in these deaths in Dublin, from 83 in 2000 to 46 in 2003. However during this same period, there was a steady increase outside of Dublin, from 30 in 2000 to 50 in 2003.

This meant that in 2003, the number of drug-related deaths outside of Dublin exceeded the figure for Dublin for the first time.

“The (decline in Dublin) possibly reflects the decrease in new opiate users, the increase in methadone treatment places, the reduction in average waiting times for methadone treatment and the provision of methadone treatment in Dublin prisons”, the Drug Misuse Research Division said.

These figures were based on unpublished data from the Central Statistics Office.