Belfast Telegraph

Public Health Agency issue festive health warning and advice on drugs

By Amanda Ferguson

With Christmas party season in full swing the Public Health Agency (PHA) is reminding people that drugs can cause death or permanent damage to your health.

The PHA says it wants people to think about the dangers that drugs pose.

Owen O’Neill from the PHA said: “Misusing drugs which have not been prescribed for you can cause serious damage to your health or even death.

“At this time of year, many people will be celebrating Christmas and some may be more likely to take drugs, putting their lives at risk.

"You can never be sure what has gone into the drugs you are taking, therefore, the only way to avoid all risks is to not take any drugs which have not been prescribed for you by your doctor.

"Any medication that you have been prescribed should be taken in the proper way.”

The PHA is highlighting the dangers of prescription drug misuse, of mixing drugs with alcohol, bingeing on drugs and taking more than one drug, known as poly drug use.

“Bingeing is very dangerous and can result in death or permanent damage to your health,” Mr O'Neill said.

“Typically, bingeing involves taking a combination of drugs over a prolonged period.

"This can have an impact on you physically and also mentally as the comedown can be very difficult.”

If you decide to take drugs despite the associated risks, the PHA offers the following advice:

• find out as much as you can about the effects of different drugs and then decide if it’s really worth it;

• it is particularly dangerous to take drugs if you:

o are on your own;

o are ill, very tired or depressed;

o are on medication;

o have taken alcohol;

o have a medical condition such as asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, high blood pressure, mental illness or heart disease.

• it’s not a good idea to take other drugs to help you come down as this increases the risk

 of overdose – downers are particularly dangerous when combined with alcohol;

• mixing alcohol and drugs, or different types of drugs, can be dangerous and should be avoided;

• make sure your friends are aware of which drug you are taking and vice versa;

• binging on drugs, over the course of several days, can increase your level of risk.

If you have taken alcohol and or drugs and are feeling unwell, please seek help.

For further information, see the PHA’s advice on harm reduction for drug users: www.bit.ly/drugharm

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