Ireland's death rate from drugs more than three times above European average

Ireland has a death rate from drugs more than three times above the European average, according to an EU report, writes Cormac O'Keeffe.

Figures from the EU drugs agency shows the high death rate is concentrated among users under the age of 40.

Ireland’s drug-induced mortality rate is 71 per 1m people, placing us fourth out of 28 EU countries, along with Norway and Turkey. Estonia tops the table, then Sweden and Norway, with the UK in fifth place (60 per million), behind Ireland.

Ireland’s rate of drug deaths is more than four times that of the Netherlands (16.5) and 12 times that of Portugal (5.8).

Ireland's death rate from drugs more than three times above European average

“The drug-induced mortality rate among adults aged 15-64 years was 71 deaths per million in 2014, which is more than three times the most recent European average of 20.3 deaths per million,” said the report by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.

The Ireland Country Drug Report 2017 took data supplied by the Irish Health Research Board and compared them against 29 other European states.

This showed that Ireland has a far higher death rate among younger drug users.

It shows that 22% of people who died here were aged 35-39, compared to 16% in Europe. Some 19% of deaths in Ireland involved users aged 30-34 (15% average), 16% were aged 25-29 (11%) and 9% were aged 20-24 (8%).

It found Ireland was fifth for newly diagnosed HIV infections attributed to injecting drug use, increasing between 2014 and 2015.

The report shows that a European survey of 15- to 16-year-old students found that Ireland was below average for current use of cigarettes, alcohol, and heavy drinking. However, Irish teens scored higher than average for lifetime use of cannabis, other drugs, and inhalants.

This article first appeared in the Irish Examiner.

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