The HSE has raised concerns about the increasing strength of MDMA and cocaine, as well as the growing trend of people consuming more than one substance at a time.
The health executive statement comes after reports from the UK of two deaths and a number of hospitaliations after drug consumption in nightclubs in recent weeks.
According to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), the purity of MDMA is at an all-time high.
In 2019, the average drug content of MDMA pills seized in Europe ranged from 118 – 210 milligrams of MDMA per tablet. Powder contents are also a concern, the HSE has said, with the purity of MDMA powder in Europe varying between 34% to 94%.
“While we can’t comment on the causes of recent UK deaths, the changing club drug market has been a concern for some time, with high strength MDMA and cocaine products increasing the risk of overdose for people who use drugs throughout Europe,” a spokesperson for the HSE has said.
“Through Drugs.ie, the HSE aims to raise awareness of the latest drug trends and trends of concern while offering harm reduction messages so people can make informed decisions.
The aim of this work is to keep the public updated on the latest emerging drug trends and to encourage people to implement practical steps to reduce the harm.
Since 2017, the HSE has raised awareness of the risks associated with changing club drug markets and in particular high strength products. This trend has been an ongoing concern as it can increase the likelihood of overdose among a range of user groups.
“As well as this, an emerging polydrug use culture of consuming more than one substance at a time is also concerning and increases overdose risks for people,” the spokesperson said.
Mick Devine, clinical director at the Tabor Group, said there is concern about the consumption of multiple substances and using illegal drugs, including unknown substances.
The Tabor Group has seen an increased demand for its addiction rehabilitation services since lockdown eased, Mr Devine added.
Knowing the signs
Last year, the HSE collaborated with the Union of Students in Ireland to launch the ‘Knowing the Signs’ campaign to raise awareness about current overdose risks, including high strength MDMA products and overdose concerns relating to a change in drug tolerance or use in isolated locations.
Resources were shared online and with third-level institutions to inform students of overdose risks, the signs of overdose and prevention measures.
“There are always risks when it comes to drugs and each person can have a different reaction to substances based on personal factors, emerging drug trends and the contents of substances and the setting they are in. The safest option is not to consume drugs at all,” the HSE said.
“For those who choose to use, we ask that they review our information on Drugs.ie, consider the current risks associated with high strength products and unknown contents emerging as well as drug interactions as a result of mixing drugs. People may have a different reaction to drugs based on their current mental health status, if they combine drugs or if they have taken a break from using substances for a period of time,” they added.
Source: Ryan O'Rourke, The Irish Examiner, 09/08/21