Home > HSE and partners mark International Overdose Awareness Day 2019.

[HSE Website] HSE and partners mark International Overdose Awareness Day 2019. (30 Aug 2019)

URL: https://www.hse.ie/eng/services/news/media/pressre...


Time to remember, time to act. Every life is worth saving’

International Overdose Awareness Day, Saturday 31st August

·         “No family should ever have to go through the pain of losing a loved one because of overdose”, Dr. Eamon Keenan, Clinical Lead for HSE Addiction Services.

  • Alcohol, mixing drugs and prescription drugs were the biggest contributors to overdose deaths.
  • Over 50% of Irish people are drinking harmfully and are classified as heavy episodic drinkers, one of the highest in the world.

Contact the HSE’s Alcohol and Drugs Helpline for information on support services - freephone1800 459 459  Monday to Friday between 9:30am and 5:30pm or email helpline@hse.ie

The HSE, together with the Dept of Health, Students Union of Ireland and partner agencies, are coming together today, 30th August at the Dept of Health to remember those who have died or suffered permanent injury due to drug overdose. Observed on the 31st of August every year, International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD) seeks to create better understanding of overdose, reduce the stigma of drug-related deaths, and create change that reduces the harms associated with drug use.

This theme of this event is ‘Time to remember, time to act. Every life is worth saving’.

Speakers on the day include Minister Catherine Byrne, T.D., Minister of State at the Dept of Health with responsibility for Health Promotion and the National Drugs Strategy; Dr Denis O'Driscoll, The Naloxone Project; Dr Eamon Keenan, HSE Clinical Lead for Addiction Services; Dr Phillip Dodd, Clinical Advisor to the HSE National Office for Suicide Prevention; and Roisin O'Donovan, Vice President for Welfare at the Union of Students in Ireland.

Speaking in advance of IOAD, the Minister with responsibility for the National Drugs Strategy, Catherine Byrne, said;

“International Overdose Awareness Day is a reminder of the devastating impact of drugs, and a time to reaffirm our support for those families and communities who have lost loved ones due to drug use and overdose. As Minister of State for the National Drugs Strategy, I stand in solidarity with these families; their loss is our loss, their pain is our pain. The National Drugs Strategy emphasises the need to respond to drug-related deaths as a public health issue. There are on average 350 drug-related overdose deaths in Ireland every year and such tragic loss of life can happen in any community, to anyone. These deaths are preventable, and by targeting high-risk drug use, and working in partnership with all stakeholders, we can achieve a significant reduction in drug-related overdose deaths.

“In particular, I am determined to reduce the more than 20 deaths arising from the injection of heroin in Dublin city every year. To address this public health issue on the streets of our capital city, we urgently need a medically supervised injecting facility. This is a life and death matter. I am working with Dublin City Council, the HSE and Merchants Quay Ireland to deliver and open this facility as soon as possible.”

HSE Clinical Lead for Addiction Services, Dr. Eamon Keenan says:

“This year International Overdose Awareness Day coincides with the first day of one of Ireland’s biggest festivals.  Our message is clear; overdose does not discriminate. Latest HRB National Drug-Related Deaths Index* shows that a total of 736 people died in 2016 compared to 431 in 2004 - representing an increase of 71 per cent. Many of these deaths were premature – half of all deaths in 2016 were aged 42 years or younger. Alcohol, mixing drugs and prescription drugs were the biggest contributors to overdose deaths.

“The HSE is continuing to prioritise the roll out of naloxone across the country, recognising the key role for this medication in reversing the effects of opioid overdose.  In relation to emerging drug trends, such as the increasing strength of MDMA/ecstasy across Europe, we are establishing a working group to undertake an examination of the evidence on the effectiveness of early harm-reduction responses, such as targeted information campaigns, drug-testing and amnesty bins. No family should ever have to go through the pain of losing a loved one because of overdose.”

HRB National Drug-Related Deaths Index shows that while methadone and diazepam are the most common prescription drugs implicated in 2016, new prescription drugs emerging in recent years are among the deaths figures. Pregabalin, which is prescribable for the treatment of epilepsy, neuropathic pain or generalised anxiety disorder, was implicated in 14 deaths in 2013, but this has risen to 65 deaths in 2016.

Dr Philip Dodd, Clinical Advisor of the HSE National Office for Suicide Prevention says:

“Connecting for Life, Ireland’s National Strategy to Reduce Suicide (2015-2020) identifies “restricting access to means” of suicidal behaviour, as a core element in preventing deaths by suicide. International Overdose Awareness Day provides us with a unique opportunity to collectively focus on drug overdose issues including the need to broaden our common understanding of overdose deaths and harmful access to drugs.

“Of particular concern is the increasing implication of Pregabalin[1] in poisoning deaths, and which now more frequently features in cases of non-fatal intentional drug overdose. By raising awareness of this issue, we hope to encourage more appropriate prescribing of such drugs, giving careful consideration to people’s vulnerability to self-harm or suicide.”

Noting that alcohol continues to be the number one drug implicated in deaths, alone or with other drugs according to HRB data, Project Manager with the HSE Alcohol Programme, Marion Rackard says:

“Due to increasing availability and affordability of alcohol over many years, over 50% of Irish people are drinking harmfully and are classified as heavy episodic drinkers, one of the highest in the world. Too many families are losing loved ones tragically and prematurely from alcohol. A HRB 2016 report on drug and alcohol-related deaths showed that alcohol was implicated in 132 such deaths. The implementation of minimum unit pricing (MUP) is urgently required to do what it is currently happening in Scotland, which is saving lives, reducing hospital admissions and having positive impacts across the whole health system and wider society.”

USI President Lorna Fitzpatrick says:

“On International Overdose Awareness Day it is important to remember that students are a very at-risk group when it comes to drug overdoses. The unfortunate truth is that students are victims of drug overdoses far too often, be it at festivals or nights out - our students are being put at risk because of the lack of awareness around drug safety.

“It is time for us to break the stigma around informing our youth about the dangers of drug use, and encourage safety measures for students when using. We need to get vocal, the ‘just say no’ approach is a thing of the past, let's talk about how to prevent this tragedy in a way that students will positively respond to.

“It is important that students are taking precautionary measures when taking drugs; keep your friends close to you, stay hydrated and take everything in small doses. It is impossible to say what your pill or powder has been mixed with, so it is vital that students take all the steps necessary to make their experience a safe one. Don’t take anything from strangers and always try your best to identify what it is you are taking and how strong it is, remember - your tolerance might be much lower than your friends, so don’t feel pressured to stay on anyone else's level. Students should always keep their phone charged on a night out in case of emergency, that way the emergency services can be easily contacted. It is always safer to not use drugs at all, there are always risks - but if you do choose to use drugs, take harm reduction measures.”

Contact the HSE’s Alcohol and Drugs Helpline for information on support services - freephone1800 459 459  Monday to Friday between 9:30am and 5:30pm or email helpline@hse.ie

A full list of the IOAD 2019 events currently planned around the world can be found at: https://www.overdoseday.com/activities-2019/

[1] Pregabalin and gabapentin (gabapentinoids) are antiepileptic prescription drugs, currently also used to relieve neuropathic pain

Item Type:News
Source:HSE Website
Date:30 August 2019
EndNote:View
Subjects:B Substances > Opioids (opiates) > Opioid product > Naloxone
G Health and disease > Substance use disorder > Drug use > Drug intoxication > Poisoning (overdose)
L Social psychology and related concepts > Life event > Change or event related to family or friend > Death of family member or close friend
P Demography, epidemiology, and history > Population dynamics > Substance related mortality / death
VA Geographic area > Europe > Ireland

Repository Staff Only: item control page