Home > Non-fatal overdose of known illicit drugs.

Lynn, Ena (2008) Non-fatal overdose of known illicit drugs. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 28, Winter 2008, pp. 15-16.

PDF (Drugnet Ireland, issue 28) - Published Version

Data used in the following analysis were extracted from the Hospital In-Patient Enquiry (HIPE) scheme.  The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) manages the HIPE scheme in Ireland.  HIPE is a computer-based health information system designed to collect data on all discharges and deaths from acute general hospitals in Ireland. Each HIPE discharge record represents one episode of care; patients may be admitted to hospital(s) more than once with the same or different diagnoses. The records therefore facilitate analyses of hospital activity rather than of the incidence of disease. HIPE does not record information on cases that attend accident and emergency units but are not admitted as inpatients. In 2005 a new version (ICD-10-AM) of the International Classification of Diseases codes used by HIPE was issued.  Data pertaining to the year 2005 only are included in the following analysis.

 There were 264 cases of overdose involving known illicit drugs1 in 2005.  Six of these cases died, and are not included in this analysis. 
[Fpr figures see the PDF document]
Age group and gender
Figure 1 shows that the 20-24-year age group is at highest risk, with the number of overdoses of known illicit drugs decreasing in older age groups.  It is important to note the significant number of cases in the 15-19-year age group. Males accounted for 80% (207) of cases
Area of residence
More than one-quarter (26.4%, 68) of all overdose cases involving known illicit drugs were among persons resident in Dublin (city and county).  Thirty-five (13.6%) cases resided in Co Tipperary, a predominantly rural area.
Poisoning intent
The poisoning was intentional in 37.6% (97) of cases.  Accidental poisoning accounted for over one-quarter of cases (27.9%, 72), while the intent of the remaining cases was undetermined.
Illicit drugs most commonly used in overdose cases
There were 264 overdose cases involving known illicit drugs in 2005. In 16% (41) of these cases more than one known illicit drug was used.  Hallucinogens were involved in 38.4% (99) of cases, of which 15% had taken at least one other illicit drug.  Opiates were involved in 29.5% (76) of cases; cocaine was involved in over a quarter (27.5%, 71); and cannabis was present in almost one-fifth (19.4%, 50). Benzodiazepines were used in conjunction with a known illicit drug in 15% (39) of cases (Figure 2).

1. Only cases involving drugs that are known to be illicit are included.  This analysis excludes opiates and other narcotics where provenance is unknown

Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
All substances
Intervention Type
Harm reduction
Issue Title
Issue 28, Winter 2008
Page Range
pp. 15-16
Health Research Board
Issue 28, Winter 2008
Accession Number
HRB (Available)

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