110 people died of drug misuse in past year, reveals Edwin Poots
Around 110 people died in Northern Ireland last year as a consequence of prescription and illegal drugs misuse, the Health Minister has warned.
Edwin Poots reiterated the dangers as the PSNI continued to investigate a recent spate of eight sudden deaths linked to illegal substances.
Two of the deaths have been linked to a lethal batch of fake ecstasy tablets, so-called 'Green Rolexes'.
The type of pills, which are embossed with a crown, have also been linked to seven deaths of young people in Scotland in recent months.
The other six sudden deaths being investigated by police in Northern Ireland potentially involved other drugs.
The eight people who died in greater Belfast and Coleraine over recent weeks were all in their 20s and 30s.
Last Friday Mr Poots was briefed by senior police and community representatives about the drugs problem. "The recent deaths of eight people in Northern Ireland are tragic and my thoughts and sympathies are with the families, but I must make it clear that this is by no means an isolated incident," he said.
"Around 110 people died last year as a result of drugs misuse, whether that's prescription drugs or illegal drugs – about nine people per month.
"This is far too many and totally unacceptable. No drugs are safe, the illegal drugs industry is not regulated and people have absolutely no idea what they are putting into their bodies, so I urge people to think again before taking any illegal drugs.
"These substances are not safe and in many cases when tested they have been found to contain banned drugs. Therefore, by taking these substances you are risking your health, and also risking being prosecuted."