Health officials say this worrying trend is part of a broader development where deaths linked to drug use — such as cardiac or liver damage and suicides — rather than direct overdoses has increased far more among female users than male users.
The report, published to coincide with International Overdose Awareness day, was compiled by the HSE National Social Inclusion Office using Health Research Board drug deaths data for 2008 to 2017.
The total number of deaths has grown over the years, from 630 in 2008 to 786 in 2017, the highest death toll to date.
Poisonings (overdoses) have actually fallen, from 387 to 376, peaking at 401 in 2013.
Non-poisonings (where the person has a history of drug use) rose by 37%, from 243 to 410.
Based on these trends, the authors, Dr David Evans, Dr Eamon Keenan and Nicki Killeen, said the difference between poisonings and non-poisonings will “exacerbate” in the next five years.
Source: Cormac O'Keeffe, Irish Examiner, 2nd September 2021