Derry MLA, Mark H. Durkan, says people need to wake up to the dangers of prescription drugs misuse which, it’s been revealed, is killing far more people here than notorious hard drugs such as Cocaine.
The SDLP MLA made the call after Joe Brogan, a former clinical pharmacist at Altnagelvin Hospital, now head of the Pharmacy at the Health and Social Care Board, warned the misuse of prescription medication caused 27 times more deaths than illicit drugs such as cocaine in 2015.
Mr. Durkan said: “Northern Ireland has one of the highest rates of prescription drug misuse. Prescribed medication is, of course, beneficial if used correctly, however, using powerful drugs without prescription can often lead to addictions similar to that found in Class A drugs such as Cocaine or Heroin.
“The fact that prescription drugs can be easily obtained online is also worrying and is making this problem even worse.
“We have seen recently that prescription drug misuse can have fatal consequences therefore, I would urge people not to take any medication unless prescribed by a medical professional and follow dosage instructions.”
Last week, Mr. Brogan, launched a new awareness campaign to combat prescription medicine abuse.
He said: “We have one of the highest rates of deaths in Northern Ireland as a result of prescription medicine abuse.”
“We want people to understand that while prescription medicine can be beneficial when prescribed correctly, it can cause serious harm and, sadly, as we have seen recently, death when misused, abused or mixed with other drugs or alcohol,” he added.
If you think you might have a problem with alcohol and/or drugs or you are concerned about a loved one and would like to get help or advice visit www.drugsandalcoholni.info