Half of those treated for problem drug use on heroin

More than half of the 60,000-plus people treated for problem drug use between 2009 and 2015 sought help for addiction to heroin.

According to the latest drug treatment figures from the Health Research Board, opiates — mainly heroin — were the most commonly reported drugs. While the number of cases treated for problem opiate use remained stable over the period, the proportion of cases treated decreased from 60.6% in 2009 to 47.8% in 2015.

Cannabis is the second most common drug cited among those seeking treatment with the number of cases increasing by 72% from 1,616 in 2009 to 2,786 in 2015. Cannabis is also the most common drug reported by new cases.

The third most common drug reported is cocaine. In 2015, 10.4% of cases reported problem cocaine use, the highest proportion since 2010.

The number of cases reporting benzodiazepines as the main problem drug rose by 185% from 306 cases (4.1%) in 2009 to 873 cases (8.8%) in 2015.

The problem use of novel psychoactive substances peaked in 2010, at 2.5% of all cases treated, and dropped to 0.4% of all cases treated in 2012. Since then it has increased to represent 0.9% of all cases treated in 2015.

More than 63% of those reporting said they were abusing more than one drug over the period. Up to 2013, alcohol was the most common additional drug reported. However, since 2014 benzodiazepines have become the most common additional drugs reported.

Seven in every 10 people reporting were men while the proportion of cases who were homeless increased from 5.6% in 2009, to 9.2% in 2015. The proportion of Travellers treated also rose from 1.9% in 2009 to 2.9% in 2015. The proportion of all cases treated who reported having ever injected remained relatively stable at around one-third.

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