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Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland
Dublin City

'Major concern' as two men die of suspected overdoses within days of each other

It’s understood the body of one man lay undiscovered for several days.

IT HAS EMERGED that two men died of suspected drug overdoses within days of each other in the past week, just a few dozen metres away from each other in Dublin city centre.

The body of a 42-year-old man was found in a common area in an apartment complex on Foley Street, just off Amiens Street in Dublin 1.

It’s understood his body had lain undiscovered for several days before the alarm was raised.

A man aged 33 was also found dead in the toilets of nearby Connolly Station yesterday, with a syringe found nearby.

Investigations are under way in both cases, and while causes of death have not been confirmed, it’s believed both fatalities are as a result of overdoses.

Public injecting

Figures from the Health Research Board point to some 679 deaths from drugs either directly or indirectly for the latest year records are available, in 2013. That figure includes both overdoses and deaths by trauma.

In many such cases, however, the deaths take place in hostels, private homes or medical facilities. These cases are unusual in that they happened in public or easily accessible areas within days of each other.

“People who inject in the public domain look for somewhere discreet to go, to hide themselves – like down an alleyway or in a public toilet,” Tony Duffin of the city centre-based Ana Liffey Drug Project said.

Often people will choose to go and inject themselves on their own. This concealment and isolation increases the risk of a fatal overdose, because people aren’t found until it’s too late.

Heroin deaths 

The latest drug death figures show that heroin deaths have increased in Ireland for the first time since 2009. There were 86 poisoning deaths from heroin in 2013, according to those figures from the HRB.

Additionally, there has been a surge in polydrug deaths in the past decade – overdoses involving more than one substance. 72% of deaths where heroin was involved also included some sort of other drug, in many cases benzodiazepines.

As reported last year, experts who work with habitual drug users are also concerned about an increase in the frequency of injections as a result of the wider availability of a former ‘head shop’ drug known as Snow Blow.

Duffin, who is campaigning for the introduction of a supervised injection facility in Dublin, said the next government needed to prioritise the legislative change that will allow for the the introduction of such centres. 

“The evidence is clear that both people would be alive now had they used in a supervised injecting facility – as no one has ever died of an overdose in one of these centres.

In addition, they would have been more likely to access treatment through engagement with a supervised injecting facility.

Duffin said his organisation had noted an increase in overdoses in their client group in the last two weeks.

“We will continue to monitor the situation with our service users and colleagues in other services, and we will be increasing our overdose prevention work.”

Additional reporting Michelle Hennessy. 

Read: The needles on the cobbles are nothing new – but the human excrement is shocking

Also: Gang used fake ambulances to smuggle heroin and cocaine worth €2.3 BILLION into UK

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