Research reveals extent of drug use in NI

A new report into behavioural habits of injecting drug users in Northern Ireland has found that almost one in three people who use needles to inject drugs have been diagnosed with Hepatitus C.

The research entitled ‘Drug Use and Risk Behaviours among Injecting Drug Users’ was commissioned by the Drug and Alcohol Information and Research Unit on behalf of the Information and Research Working Group.

Among its other findings, the average age a user first injected was 23-years-old while three-quarters had injected heroin on that first occasion.

Almost all of those who had injected in the 30 days prior to interview had injected with new needles and syringes. However, most had used other equipment such as filters, spoons/stericups, and water that had been used by another injector.

Almost one-third (30%) reported that they had been diagnosed with hepatitis C, almost one-fifth (19%) had been fully immunised against hepatitis B while 15% had never been tested for HIV antibodies.

Nearly 40% of those interviewed were taking prescribed benzodiazepines, whereas others purchased them on the street or on the internet, or obtained them from partners, relatives or friends. Most had no knowledge of the dangers of withdrawal.

Based on the findings of the research report the authors made a number of recommendations relating to: the distribution of information on the risks associated with all aspects injecting drug use; the further expansion of existing initiatives and services available to injecting drug users; and the need for research on the use of benzodiazepines among injecting drug users.

Dr Karen McElrath of Queens University and Michele Jordan conducted the research during the period December 2003 to September 2004.


Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

01 December 2020
Hate Crime Legislation Recommendations 'Complex And Wide-Ranging'
The Final Report of a review in to NI's hate crime legislations contains recommendations that are "complex and wide–ranging" and Justice Minister Naomi Long has said she will have to "take some time to give them careful consideration". The report has been compiled by Judge Desmond Marrinan.
30 November 2020
Appeal For Information On Pipebomb Incident In L'Derry
Police in L'Derry have issued an appeal for information on an incident at Knockwellan Park in the Waterside area on Saturday 28th November. Making the appeal, Detective Sergeant Richard Donnell said: "Just before 10pm on Saturday night, police received a report that a white transit van, which had been parked in the area, was on fire.
23 November 2020
Police Appeal For Information On Burglaries In Holywood And Dundonald
The PSNI have issued two separate appeals for information on burglaries in Holywood and Dundonald. Detectives are appealing for information following a report of a burglary of a house in Holywood on the evening of Friday 20th November.
04 December 2020
Appeal For Information On Aggravated Burglary
The PSNI have issued an appeal for information and witnesses following a report of an aggravated burglary at a house in the Cupar Way area of Belfast last night. At approximately 11.00pm two men, one of whom had what is believed to be a hammer, forced their way into a house.
01 December 2005
Local academic researches HIV fight
Promoting safer sex and safe injecting techniques among drug users is the key to fighting HIV/AIDS, new research has claimed.