Press Release

Statement by Varadkar on National Drug-Related Deaths Index

“The 2012 figures from the National Drug-Related Deaths Index have just been published, the last full year for which data is available. It shows a small decline in the overall number of drug-related deaths, and the number of deaths in which heroin was involved also continues to decline,” Minister for Health Leo Varadkar said today.

“Nevertheless, drug-related deaths still remain at an unacceptable level, and every death is a tragedy in its own right. We need to continue our efforts to reduce the number of such deaths.

“The HSE Service Plan for 2015 includes an additional €2.1m for measures under the National Drugs Strategy targeting vulnerable problem drug users. These measures include enhanced provision for residential detoxification and rehabilitation facilities, and the mainstreaming of needle exchange facilities outside the Dublin area.

“This funding will also support a pilot Naloxone Demonstration Project which will increase access to naloxone for non-medical staff, such as care workers, family and peers of opioid users. Naloxone reverses the effects of drugs like heroin, morphine and methadone if someone overdoses. It is currently available on prescription only. According to the World Health Organisation, increased access to naloxone for people likely to witness an overdose could significantly reduce the high numbers of opioid overdose deaths.

“In 2015, HSE mental health services will continue investing in posts for the homeless mentally ill, including up to eight posts in the Dublin North and South City areas, and in Cork City. These new posts will assist the community mental health teams in these urban areas, working with primary care and other health services, to engage with the homeless directly and through voluntary providers on the complex needs that arise with this vulnerable group.”



Notes for the Editor
The National Drug-Related Deaths Index shows a slight decrease in the number of drug-related deaths from 645 in 2011 to 633 in 2012.

The information contained in the report on drug-related deaths can be summarised as follows:


Table 1   Number of deaths, by year, NDRDI 2004 to 2012 (N=5,289)

2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
All deaths 432 505 561 626 626 656 605 645 633
Poisonings (3,112) 267 300 325 382 386 374 341 387 350
Non-poisoning (2,177) 165 205 236 244 240 282 264 258 283


Deaths are calculated from four sources:

·        Coroners’ records;
·        Hospital In-patient Enquiry Scheme;
·        Central Treatment List; and
·        General Mortality Register

The administration of the National Drug-Related Deaths Index is carried out in accordance with the highest international standards.