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Sleeping pill-related deaths increase by 41%

16 Jan 2017

Prescription drugs were responsible for three-in-four of all deaths due to overdose in 2014, and Zoplicone-related deaths increased by 41 per cent between 2013 and 2014, according to latest figures.

The National Drug-Related deaths index 2004–2014, which was released last month (December 13) by the Health Research Board (HRB), revealed that diazepam was the most common single prescription drug implicated in 115 (32%) of all poisoning deaths, with methadone implicated in more than a quarter (98, 28%).

The HRB regularly reports on poisonings deaths, or overdose, which are due to the toxic effect of a drug, or combination of drugs, as well as on non-poisonings — deaths among people who use drugs as a result of trauma, such as hanging, or medical reasons, such as cardiac events.

Almost two people died every day in Ireland during 2014 due to poisoning, trauma or medical causes linked to drug use. A total of 697 people died in 2014 compared to 431 in 2004; this represents an increase of 62 per cent.

The figures also show that a total of 6,697 people who use drugs have died in Ireland in the decade between 2004 and 2014.

According to the report, 235 people — or two in every three — died in 2014 because they took a mixture of drugs, with an average of four drugs involved. Benzodiazepines were the most common drug group involved in polydrug deaths.

The HRB report also revealed that the number of non-poisoning deaths increased by 14 per cent, from 301 in 2013 to 343 in 2014. The main causes of non-poisoning deaths were hanging (27%) and cardiac events (15%).

There was a 21 per cent increase in deaths due to hanging between 2013 and 2014 and more than two thirds (67%) of people who died as a result of hanging had a history of mental health illness, the report noted.

june.shannon@imt.ie

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