HSE issues drugs harm reduction information for those attending festivals this summer
Ireland's drug fatality rate is more than three times the European average.
The Health Service Executive has issued drug harm reduction information to Irish festival goers, following the tragic deaths of two young people at a UK festival.
The use of psychoactive drugs in Ireland among the 15-24 year age group is the highest in Europe (22% lifetime use, Eurobarometer poll 2014).
Data suggests that the potency of most illicit substances is increasing and that the market for substances is becoming more varied and accessible. Serious adverse effects have been reported with MDMA recently including seizures, overheating and mental health problems, in particular paranoia and psychosis.
Ireland’s drug-induced mortality rate is 71 per 1 million people, placing us fourth out of 28 EU countries, along with Norway and Turkey.
Dr Eamon Keenan, HSE Clinical Lead for Addiction Services says: “We are aware that there have been deaths and hospitalisations at festivals in the UK recently associated with the use of illicit drugs.
"We are also aware that there are high dose batches of ecstasy or MDMA in circulation. With this in mind as the festival season begins, we want to make people aware of our harm reduction information around drugs.
"Harm reduction benefits people who use drugs, their families and the community.
"We would encourage people to look after themselves and look out for their friends. Talk to your friends if you decide to use drugs. Stay with your friends and do not leave anybody who is intoxicated on their own.
"If you are at a festival and you or a friend needs medical help, don’t be afraid to contact the welfare and emergency services. Always make sure when you arrive at a festival that you know where the Medical tent is located.
"Avoid trying drugs or new types of drugs for the first time at festivals. There is information, support and help available online through drugs.ie or by calling the Drugs Helpline.”
According to Tony Duffin, CEO of Ana Liffey Drug Project, “Using illicit or unknown drugs always carries risks, and it is safer not to use drugs at all."
"Recent tragic deaths in the UK highlight this all too clearly," he continued.
"If you do choose to use drugs – inform yourself first. Harm reduction works, it could save your life or the life of a friend."
The HSE's drug harm reduction information warns potential drug users that it is always safer not to use ecstasy and/or MDMA, but if you do:
1. Test dose a new batch – begin with a low dose ¼ pill
2. Wait at least two hours before using anymore
3. Some pills are cut with other drugs that take effect more slowly
4. When buying always know your source
5. Mixing drugs and alcohol can increase the risk of unwanted side effects
6. Stay with trusted friends
7. Stay well hydrated by drinking water and remember to eat properly
8. MDMA can make people sexually aroused - always use a condom
9. Chewing gum can help jaw cramps
10. Wait four weeks between sessions.
For more information and support, check out the HSE's Drug and Alcohol information website, or freephone the HSE Drug Helpline on 1800 459 459.