MOST Irish people would have no reason to be aware that yesterday was International Overdose Awareness Day. It is a day to pause and reflect on the incidence of drug use and abuse.
Most Irish people would know that this country has a serious problem with alcohol abuse but we have yet to deal fully with the problem of drug addiction.
The statistics for overdose in Ireland are among the highest in Europe and many of these deaths and injuries are preventable. The figures are shocking. The highest rates are reported in Estonia (113 per million), Sweden (93 per million), and Ireland (71 per million). That means we are in the top three of nations where overdose deaths occur. That is the statistic, but the reality is the pain, suffering and grief experienced by families and loved ones of those who die from an overdose.
The HSE is looking at providing Naloxone, a new drug designed to reduce that mortality rate. That is to be welcomed, but it must be combined with a concerted effort to combact drug abuse.
The Programme for Government commits to a health-led, rather than a criminal justice approach, to drug use, and, according to Minister for State Catherine Byrne, a key priority is the development of a new National Drugs Strategy.
For the sake of those affected by the scourge of drug use, let us hope her efforts are successful.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved