Two people die from drug-related causes in Ireland every day .
Drug services group Merchants Quay is calling for urgent action to be taken as new figures show 697 people died of drug-related deaths in 2014.
The Health Research Board (HRB) is issuing a report today which shows Ireland continues to have one of the highest drug mortality rates across the European Union.
The drug-related death toll in Ireland in 2014 outstripped the numbers killed on the roads by more than three to one, figures from the HRB show.
And of the 697 who died, half were aged 39 or younger. Three in four of all deaths were males.
While 13 people on average died each week as a result of a drug-related death in 2014 — 697 in total — 193 people, more than three a week, lost their lives on the roads the same year.
Three in every four deaths where drugs were implicated involved prescription drugs, most commonly diazepam (Valium).
The HRB figures represent a huge surge over the past decade; in 2004, when the first index report was published, the number of drug related deaths was 431. Now, it is 62% higher.
HRB chief executive Dr Graham Love said prescription drugs and drug cocktails were increasingly playing a role in the rise of drug-related deaths.
“It is not just illicit drugs that are resulting in death. Over time we are seeing a rise in the number of deaths involving prescription drugs and cocktails of different drugs. Alcohol is also implicated in one in three deaths. Mixing drugs increases the risk of death, which is clearly reflected in these figures,” said Dr Love.