£7m cost of treating addiction
Over £7 million was spent treating drug and alcohol addictions in Northern Ireland last year, it has been revealed.
More than 5,500 people were receiving care at the start of March, the Department of Health said.
Minister Michael McGimpsey said: "Without intervention and prevention the health service will struggle to cope with alcohol and drug misuse - and related issues such as domestic violence, child protection, mental health and suicide - in the years ahead.
"That is why we must place a significant focus on not just treating those affected by substance misuse, but also in preventing and reducing the related harm."
Health and social care trusts provide treatment and support services including a community addiction service, in-patient beds and needle exchanges.
The bill for treating addictions in the financial year to the end of March this year came to around £7.5 million.
The department has been working closely with the Department for Social Development on alcohol licensing, with a proposal to address irresponsible drink promotions.