Drugs linked to 250 teen deaths over 10 years

ALMOST 250 teenagers have died in drug-related incidents over a 10-year period, including 18 children aged under 15.

Drugs, both illegal and legal, claimed a further 513 people aged between 20 and 24 in the period 1998 to 2007.

This means more than a fifth of the 3,465 drug death victims were aged under 24.

Figures show the number of drug deaths have continued to rise since 2005 – the most recent year for which data had been available before yesterday. The National Drug-Related Deaths Index (NDRDI), compiled by the Health Research Board, shows:

nTotal number of drug deaths have doubled from 242 in 1998 to 476 in 2007 (447 in 2005).

nDeaths from poisoning have risen from 178 in 1998 to 274 in 2007 (248 in 2005).

nDeaths from non-poisonings have jumped from 64 in 1998 to 202 in 2007 (199 in 2005).

Poisonings are directly due to the toxic effects of drugs. Non-poisonings refer to victims with a history of drug use who die from either trauma, such as violence or accidents, or medical reasons, such as heart, brain, respiratory damage.

Of the 2,120 poisoning victims, 458 (or 22%) were aged under 24, including 153 teenagers.

Of the 1,345 non-poisoning victims, a cause of death was established in 1,183 cases. Of these, 714 were due to trauma, the biggest cause being hanging (257).

Here the young age was most glaring, with 262 (37%) aged under 24, including 76 teenagers.

The other main causes of trauma deaths are road traffic accidents (138), drowning (87), falls (76), shooting (46), stabbing (37) and assault (19).

The index shows that the two drugs most implicated in poisoning deaths were legal.

Benzodiazepines (prescription tranquillisers) were involved in 793 deaths (37%), while alcohol was involved in 518 deaths (24%).

Deaths involving cocaine jumped from five in 1998 to 63 in 2007, equal to heroin.

There was a sharp rise in 2007 in poisoning deaths in both the southern and south-eastern regional drug task forces.


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