THE latest findings from the European Union drugs agency reveals that Ireland stands fourth amongst 28 European countries for the most deaths caused by drug use, with a death rate more than three times above the European average.
Estonia tops the table for this year, followed by Sweden and Norway, with the UK coming behind Ireland in fifth place. Ireland’s rate of drug deaths is more than four times that of the Netherlands and twelve times that of Portugal.
Ireland’s high death rate is concentrated amongst younger users, between the ages of 15 and 40. The mortality rate is 71 deaths per one million people, while the most recent European average of 20.3 deaths per million. Ireland stood third amongst European drug-induced deaths in 2011, with 68 deaths per million people.
Over 22% of people who died here were aged 35-39, compared to 16% in Europe. Some 19% of deaths in Ireland involved users aged 30-34 (15% average), 16% were aged 25-29 (11%) and 9% were aged 20-24 (8%).
The report shows that a European survey of 15- to 16-year-old students found that Ireland was below average for current use of cigarettes, alcohol, and heavy drinking. However, Irish teens scored higher than average for lifetime use of cannabis, other drugs, and inhalants.
Today's news comes after a major drugs bust in one of Ireland's most idyllic seaside towns, the largest seizure in the area in recent years.