The Western Trust area has the highest percentage of people in treatment for a combination of alcohol and drugs misuse, according to newly published statistics.
The latest census for drug and alcohol treatment services, published by the Department of Health, shows that 1,321 were receiving treatment in the Western Trust area as of April 30 this year. Almost 40% of those are being treated by non-statutory agencies.
It comes after the Derry News recently revealed that 149 people died of alcohol misuse at Altnagelvin Hospital and a further 8 passed away due to drug related conditions from 2015-2018.
Of all Trusts, the new report shows that the Western area had the highest percentage of people undergoing treatment for both drugs and alcohol misuse at the same time.
In the Western Trust area, 27% of people were being treated for dual addictions whereas that fell below 20% in other areas.
For the country as a whole, more clients were in treatment for alcohol misuse only.
A spokesperson for the Public Health Agency warned of the “lethal” risks associated with mixing drugs and alcohol.
Drug and alcohol misuse is sadly an all too common issue and all drugs, whether illegal drugs or prescription medication, carry risks, she said.
The PHA explained that due to the fact drug use is an illegal, and usually hidden, activity, and many users do not access services, it is very difficult to obtain a true picture of the numbers misusing drugs in Northern Ireland.
However, using anecdotal information from other sources, including PHA-funded services there does appear to have been an increase in drug use throughout Northern Ireland in recent years.

Increased Risk

The Public Health Agency strongly recommends that you do not take anything unless it has been prescribed to you by a medical professional and in accordance with your prescription.
The spokesperson added: "The primary risk factors when using drugs include taking too much of a substance, taking a substance over an extended period of time or 'bingeing', mixing drugs with other drugs and/or alcohol, and using drugs on your own.
"Mixing different types of drugs, or mixing alcohol and drugs, including prescription medication, can be dangerous and should be avoided. It can increase the toxicity of already potentially harmful substances, and increases the risk of serious harm and death.”
She continued: "Any drug or medicine has the potential to be a poison – there are only three things that differentiate it. Firstly, what is the dose? If you take too much of it you could die.
“Secondly, what are you taking it for? If it is not clinically prescribed for you, then it could also be lethal.
“Thirdly, if you are taking it with something else, for example mixing it with alcohol or other drugs, then it could also cost you your life.”
If you think you might have a problem with alcohol and/or drugs and would like to get help, please visit http://services.drugsandalcoholni.info/ for information on support services near you.
If you have taken drugs or have misused a medication and are feeling unwell, please seek medical help urgently.
A range of services are also available if you are affected by someone else’s drinking and/or drug misuse – information on these services is also available on www.drugsandalcoholni.info.
These services are available to you regardless of whether or not your loved one is receiving help for his or her alcohol and/or drug problem.

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