Northern Ireland

NI has 'serious problem' with prescription drug abuse

Joe McCrisken was speaking at a Féile an Phobail event in west Belfast on the dangers of prescription medication
Image caption Joe McCrisken was speaking at a Féile an Phobail event in west Belfast on the dangers of prescription medication

A coroner has warned that Northern Ireland has a serious problem with prescription drug abuse.

Joe McCrisken was speaking at a Féile an Phobail event in west Belfast on the "dangers of prescription medication".

"The last figures indicate that Tramadol, a prescription drug, killed more people here than heroin," he said.

"Fentanyl, also a prescription drug, killed more people here than cocaine and ecstasy combined," he added.

He said the figures indicated there was a "problem".

"We know that the problem is increasing and I think that the solution is multifaceted - we all need to get involved to try and prevent further deaths," he added.

'Scourge'

Mr McCrisken said he felt it was important that he attend the event given his role in dealing with families who have lost loved ones as a result of prescription drug abuse.

"It seemed important to me to come along and attempt if possible to provide some degree of education and a bit of information on the subject.

"Also to hear from the families themselves, they educated me as much as I did them today so it has been a really worthwhile event and good for the Coroners' Service and a coroner in particular to engage with the community".

Patricia Browne is one of a number of mothers to have lost a child to the scourge of prescription drug abuse.

Her 26-year-old son Christopher Lavery died in west Belfast in April after a suspected overdose.

Patricia said that more needs to done assist those with addiction problems: "We thought Christopher was brilliant, he was moving to a new house, there's a one off, it cost him his life.

"We're left with so much grief. My life can never be the same without Christopher.

"It's just so hard and it's so early stages of trying to pick up and move on," she said.

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