Pattern of drugs misuse across NI revealed in stats

Editorial Image.
Editorial Image.

A significant statistical picture of drug misuse across the whole of Northern Ireland has revealed that cannabis remains the ‘drug of choice’ in the province.

The Department of Health has published statistics from the NI Drug Misuse Database - a bulletin which summarises information on people presenting to services with problem drug misuse and relates to the 12-month period ending 31 March 2016.

In 2015/16, a total of 2,229 clients presented to services for problem drug misuse and gave their consent for their details to be included in the DMD.

Four-fifths of clients (79%) were male. Male clients tended to be younger on average than female clients. A third of male clients (35%) were aged 18-25, while 17% were aged over 40 years old.

For female clients, 29% were aged 18-25 and 32% were aged over 40 years old.

Two-fifths of those presenting for treatment (40%) took just one drug, while a fifth (23%) took two drugs. A fifth of clients (19%) took four or more drugs.

Four-fifths of all clients (82%) used at least one hypnotic drug, with 59% of all clients using a hypnotic drug as their main drug.

Almost half of all clients (46%) used at least one stimulant drug, with it being the main drug for a fifth of all clients (18%).

Over a quarter of all clients (26%) used at least one opioid analgesic drug, with 20% of all clients using one as their main drug.

Considering all drugs used by clients, the most commonly reported drug used was Cannabis (used by 66% of clients) followed by Benzodiazepines (37%) and Cocaine (35%).

Cannabis was used by 40% of clients as their main drug of misuse in 2015/16, similar to the figure in 2014/15.

Over a quarter of those presenting for treatment (26%) had previously received treatment for their drug misuse.

The proportion of clients that had ever injected drugs during their lifetime stood at 11% in 2015/16.

Between 2005/06 and 2015/16, use of Cocaine among clients rose from 25% to 35%, while use of Ecstasy (26% to 10%) and Heroin (13% to 10%) both fell.