Northern Ireland

Illicit and prescription drugs 'played role in ten deaths'

Det Supt Bobby Singleton Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Det Supt Bobby Singleton said 10 deaths had been linked to suspected drugs abuse

There have been 10 suspected drugs-related deaths in the greater Belfast area since December, police have said.

PSNI Detective Superintendent Bobby Singleton said while the cause of death is not definitively known , the use of illicit or prescription drugs may have been a factor.

The majority of drug-related deaths in NI occur when someone has taken more than one substance, including alcohol.

Police made 6,771 drug seizures in the year ending 30 September 2018.

A total of 3,310 drug-related arrests were made in the same period, up by 469 on the previous year.

"These sustained high levels of drug seizure incidents reflect the proactive work by the PSNI in response to concerns about drugs within our communities," Det Supt Singleton said.

Image caption The use of illicit or prescription drugs may have played a role in the deaths

Michael Owen of the Public Health Agency said all drugs carried risks.

"Mixing different types of drugs, or mixing alcohol and drugs, including prescription medication, can be dangerous and should be avoided," he said.

"It can increase the toxicity of already potentially harmful substances, and increases the risk of serious harm and death.

He added: "Any drug or medicine has the potential to be a poison - there are only three things that differentiate it.

"Firstly, what is the dose? If you take too much of it you could die. Secondly, what are you taking it for? If it is not clinically prescribed for you, then it could also be lethal.

"Thirdly, if you are taking it with something else, for example mixing it with alcohol or other drugs, then it could also cost you your life."

The PHA say for more information and support services visit www.drugsandalcoholni.info.

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