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lethal cocktails

Methadone. Heroin. Alcohol ... Surge in mixed-drug deaths since 2004

There’s been an increase in the number of drug-related deaths recorded. Alcohol was a factor in three out of four of all poisonings.

MORE THAN HALF of all poisoning deaths in 2012 were as a result of taking a mixture of drugs, new figures from the Health Research Board confirmed today.

There’s been a 60 per cent increase in the number of deaths involving polydrug use since 2004.

A total of 350 people died due to the presence of “the toxic effect of one or more drugs present in the body” in 2012, according to these latest figures. That’s down 37 on the previous year.

Of that figure, half were aged 40 or younger. Three out of four were men.

Additionally, alcohol was involved in one in every three poisoning deaths. Methadone was involved in one out of four.

There were 61 deaths involving heroin — showing a sustained decline in heroin deaths from a peak of 115 in 2009.

A further 283 people died as a result of non-poisonings. That category includes deaths from medical causes like liver disease, and from ‘trauma’ (ie. any other external factor: road traffic collisions, death by suicide, drownings, homicide).

“In 2012, for the first time, we looked at history of mental illness among those who died,” Ena Lynn of the Health Research Board said.

Our data shows that one in three people who died had a history of mental illness and this rose to one in every two deaths when you look at trauma alone.

The figures are compiled in order to inform how to tackle problems caused by drug and alcohol abuse in the future.

“Our data outlines the key contributors to the deaths,” CEO of the Health Research Board Graham Love said.

“We are also seeing evidence that interventions work.

“Since 2004 there is a sustained decrease in the number of deaths among drug users linked to road traffic collisions, which have fallen by 62 per cent since 2006.

“This correlates with tough drink-driving campaigns from the Road Safety Authority and the introduction of random breath testing in 2006.”

It’s hoped that the new roadside drug testing measures announced recently will lead to a further decline in deaths, Love said.

A total of 5,289 people have lost their lives from drug-related deaths since records began in 2004.

Read: Calls for pre-trial hearings on disclosure of sensitive material in sex offence cases

Read: Daughter of Jonathan Corrie planning to sleep-out on street where her father died

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