Rise in use of cocaine and ecstasy, say new Department of Health statistics

Tue, 30/01/2018 - 10:26 -- Editor

The Department of Health today published the “Statistics from the NI Substance Misuse Database 2016/17” report and accompanying tables.

The bulletin summarises information on people presenting to services with problem drug and / or alcohol misuse and relates to the 12-month period ending 31 March 2017. This is the first bulletin reporting on information collected through the Northern Ireland Substance Misuse Database (SMD), which replaced the previous Northern Ireland Drug Misuse Database (DMD). 

Key Findings

  • In Northern Ireland in 2016/17, a total of 4,368 clients presented to services for problem substance misuse and gave their consent for their details to be included in the SMD. 
  • More than a quarter of clients (27.4%, 1,195 clients) presented to services for misuse of drugs only; 44.0% (1,923 clients) for problem alcohol use only; and 28.6% (1,250) for both drug and problem alcohol misuse.
  • The majority of clients (72.1%) were male; this was true across all client types.
  • The most common age group for clients generally was 25-34 years (24.4%), however clients accessing services only for problem alcohol use tended to be in older age-groups, with 45-54 years being the most common (30.9%).
  • Cannabis was the most commonly used drug with almost two thirds of clients who use drugs reporting taking it (65.8%), this was followed by Cocaine (36.9%); Benzodiazepines (35.1%); Ecstasy (15.3%) and Heroin (10.9%).
  • In comparison with the previous year, the proportion of clients using Cannabis has remained at a similar level, the proportion using Benzodiazepines has fallen from 37.1% to 35.1% whilst an increase was noted for both Cocaine (34.6% to 36.9%) and Ecstasy (10.5% to 15.3%).
  • One in ten drug use clients reported ever having injected (10.6%); this is consistent with the 2015/16 finding. Of those who had injected, around one in five (19.4%) reported having shared injecting equipment at some time.
  • Of those clients attending for problem alcohol use, two in five (44.0%) indicated daily consumption of alcohol.
  • Two in five clients presenting to services for problem alcohol use (41.6%) reported previous treatment for alcohol; a smaller proportion of those presenting for drug use (26.2%) reported having previous treatment for drugs.