Cocaine-related overdoses rising, figures show

Fatal cocaine-related overdoses are continuing to increase, according to official drug death statistics.

On the back of a series of large seizures and concerns from gardaí and treatment centres regarding the resurgence, new figures show that cocaine was involved in 44 deaths in 2015.

The number of cocaine-related poisoning (overdose) deaths have more than doubled since 2010 (21 deaths) and cocaine was one of only two main drug types where deaths increased between 2014 and 2015.

Graph: Health Research Board

The National Drug- Related Deaths Index also shows a massive rise in deaths associated with Pregabalin, an epilepsy drug which is also prescribed for chronic pain and anxiety, with related fatalities jumping from 14 in 2013, to 26 in 2014 and to 44 in 2015.

Poisoning deaths from all of the other main drug types have decreased, including alcohol (117 to 107), the benzodiazepine diazepam (118 to 101), methadone (103 to 86), heroin (94 to 82), and the sedative zopiclone (73 to 62).

Graph: Health Research Board

Figures from the Health Research Board show deaths from MDMA or ecstasy also dropped (15 to 8). The super-potent fentanyl (a synthetic opiate) claimed seven lives in 2015, the first in the country.

Cocaine-related deaths have seen a 110% rise since 2010, when such fatalities began to rise again. Deaths linked to the stimulant rose in the Celtic Tiger years, increasing from 19 in 2004 to 54 in 2006, before reaching a peak in the following years (65 in 2007 and 61 in 2008).

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