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[Health Research Board] Health Research Board compares the Irish drug situation with the rest of Europe. (06 Jun 2019)

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The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) will publish the European drug report 2019: trends and developments today. This report provides a snapshot of the latest drug trends across the 28 EU member states, Norway and Turkey. The Health Research Board (HRB) provides the Irish data and research for the EMCDDA report.

This media brief is designed to highlight key points from the European report and, where the data are available, provide a comparison with the situation in Ireland.


Europe is seeing signs of an increase in cocaine availability, with seizures at record levels according to the latest European drug report 2019: trends and developments.


The report shows that in the EU 28, Norway and Turkey over one million seizures of illicit drugs are reported annually, around 96 million adults aged 15-64 years have tried an illicit drug in their lifetime and 1.2 million people receive treatment each year for illicit drug use. In 2018, 55 new psychoactive substances (NPS) were detected in Europe for the first time, bringing the total monitored by the EMCDDA to 730.


Commenting on the report, the Minister of State with responsibility for the National Drugs Strategy, Catherine Byrne, said: ‘The drug problem across Europe and here at home is of great concern, and the growing problem of cocaine use is particular worrying. In response, the HSE has developed a campaign to raise awareness of the dangers associated with cocaine and crack cocaine use. I have also recently allocated funding for the development of strategic health initiatives by the HSE and Drug and Alcohol Task Forces around the country, and it is anticipated they will include projects to tackle cocaine use.


The report also highlights the issue of drug poisonings. Any death from drug use is a tragedy and we must continue to promote harm reduction and prevent overdose. Across Europe, Supervised Injecting Facilities have been instrumental in reducing drug-related harm and I remain firmly committed to the establishment of a pilot facility in Dublin city. I also welcome the increase in the provision of Naloxone and training in its delivery as another public health measure which can greatly reduce overdose deaths in Ireland.’


EMCDDA Director Alexis Goosdeel says: ‘The challenges we face in the drug area continue to grow. Not only are there signs of increased availability of established plant-based drugs like cocaine, but we are also witnessing an evolving market where synthetic drugs and drug production within Europe are growing in importance. This can be seen in problems associated with the use of highly potent synthetic opioids, in new production techniques for MDMA and amphetamines, and in recent developments in the processing of morphine into heroin inside Europe’s borders.’

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