A former clinical pharmacist at Altnagelvin has warned the abuse of prescription medicine and alcohol is killing far too many people across the North each year.
Joe Brogan, who is now the Head of Pharmacy at the Health and Social Care Board, has revealed that the misuse of prescription medication such as Tramadol, Diazepam and antidepressants caused 27 times more deaths than illicit drugs such as cocaine in 2015.
He was speaking as the HSCB launched a new awareness campaign to combat prescription medicine abuse.
“We have one of the highest rates of deaths in Northern Ireland as a result of prescription medicine abuse,” he said.
“We want people to understand that while prescription medicine can be beneficial when prescribed correctly, it can cause serious harm and, sadly, as we have seen recently, death when misused, abused or mixed with other drugs or alcohol,” he added.
The PHA’s Drugs and Alcohol lead Michael Owen said: “Drug misuse can have fatal consequences, therefore the PHA strongly recommends that you do not take any drug unless it has been prescribed to you by a medical professional, and according to dosage instructions.
“Mixing prescription medication with other drugs, or with alcohol, is dangerous – different substances interact in hugely different ways in the body, which can range from causing no side effects to creating highly toxic reactions.
“The best way to avoid any risk is to not take any drug that has not been prescribed to you and to stay within the alcohol limits.”
The campaign will be predominantly a social media campaign, targeting not just young people but also parents to raise greater awareness among all in the community about the dangers of misusing medicine.
A video explaining this is available here https://business.facebook.com/healthandsocialcareboard/videos/1888910497989989/
If you think you might have a problem with alcohol and/or drugs or you are concerned about a loved one and would like to get help or advice please visit www.drugsandalcoholni.info for more information on the various support services near you.