Northern Ireland

Drugs misuse killed 75 in Northern Ireland last year

Seventy five people died in Northern Ireland last year due to misuse of drugs, it has emerged.

Official statistics show that 57 men and 18 women died from drugs controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

The drugs include illegal ones such as heroin and cocaine, and prescription medicines like sedatives and anti-depressants also covered by the Act.

The 75 deaths in 2012 cannot be broken down because that statistical information is not yet available.

However, figures for the decade between 1999 and 2009 shows that prescription medicines were mentioned on more death certificates than anything else, by a wide margin.

Heroin, ecstacy and cocaine were the most commonly found illegal substances in the blood of those who died, according to the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency.

But more common was the painkiller paracetamol, which which can be bought over the counter.

Separate statistics on the geographical spread of drug-related deaths show that between 2007-2011 an area defined as inner north Belfast had the highest incidence, at 19 deaths.

This was followed by inner east Belfast, at 13; Greater Shankill, at 12; Falls/Clonard at 11 deaths and Crumlin/Ardoyne at ten.

Elsewhere, Newry had seven deaths; Lurgan had five deaths; Brownlow in Craigavon had four deaths and Ballymena had five deaths over that four-year period.