Dangers of drug misuse during lockdown highlighted

Drugs web

The Public Health Agency (PHA) is reminding everyone of the dangers associated with the misuse of illicit and prescription drugs, particularly given some of the challenges which the lockdown presents, and is asking anyone who misuses drugs to takes steps to reduce their risk.

Michael Owen, Regional Lead for Drugs and Alcohol at the PHA, said: “Drug and alcohol misuse is sadly all too common and something that can affect anyone.

“The PHA would strongly advise that the only effective way to avoid risk is to not take any drugs which have not been prescribed for you by your doctor.

“During the lockdown, some people may find that they have more time on their hands, or face increased stress from money or personal challenges. People with addiction may need additional support during this lockdown period, so if you feel that this might increase your likelihood to misuse substances, reach out for help.”

Support services are still operating and are there for those who need them. These services are available in your local area and you can find information on these at www.drugsandalcoholni.info

Support is also available for families affected by a family member’s substance misuse, irrespective of whether the family member is receiving treatment or not.

Michael added: “The main risk factors when using drugs include taking too much of a substance, taking a substance over an extended period of time, “bingeing”, mixing drugs with other drugs and/or alcohol, and using drugs on your own.

“Mixing drugs can increase the toxicity of the substances and cause serious problems, including overdose and organ damage posing a significant risk to your life.

“If you regularly use illicit drugs and you haven’t been taken the same amount as you normally would, your body’s tolerance to the drug will have decreased and you may even have went in to a period of withdrawal if you haven’t been taking any drugs.

“So, if you do get hold of your ‘usual’ dose, please don’t take it all at the one time, as this could cause organ failure, overdose and death. Start with a much smaller amount than you would normally take.

“We have been working with our partners in the Health and Social Care Board and community organisations to help people who have addiction issues get support during lockdown.

“If you know someone who this might affect, please don’t let them go through it alone. Encourage them to seek help. It could save their life.”