Belfast Telegraph

Drug offences in Northern Ireland increase by around a fifth

The significant rise prompted warnings from health chiefs concerned about the risk of serious side effects or death through overdose.

The number of drug offences in Northern Ireland increased by around a fifth over the last year, police said.

Public health officials expressed concern about the risk of serious side effects or death through overdose.

On average 554 offences involving the potentially lethal substances were reported each month during the 12 months to June, compared with 472 during the previous period, PSNI statistics showed.

The PHA would strongly advise that the only way to avoid all risks is to not take any drugs which have not been prescribed for you by your doctor Michael Owen, Public Health Agency

In total, an extra 986 drugs offences were recorded, an increase of 17% to 5,795 over the last 12 months.

Michael Owen, health and social wellbeing improvement manager at the Public Health Agency (PHA), said alcohol and drug misuse was a common issue.

He said: “The PHA would strongly advise that the only way to avoid all risks is to not take any drugs which have not been prescribed for you by your doctor.

“The primary risk factors relating to health and wellbeing when using drugs include taking too much of a substance, taking a substance over an extended period of time or bingeing, mixing drugs with alcohol and/ or other drugs, and using drugs on your own.”

He added taking drugs for extended periods of time increases risk of serious side effects and/or death by overdose and urged users to have people around that they knew and trusted and who could contact the emergency services should they become unwell.

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