COMMENT: We must do more to prevent drug overdose deaths amongst the homeless.

December 22, 2018

The Christmas period can be particularly difficult for people who have to deal with homelessness and addiction, but the public can help.

By Tony Duffin, CEO of Ana Liffey Drug Project

A high percentage of people who access Ana Liffey’s services are homeless. Everyone we work with uses drugs problematically, to a greater or lesser degree. The people we work with are polydrug users, mixing heroin, street tablets and alcohol to get through their day.

The people we support have issues with their physical health and very often their mental health too. All of this means that this vulnerable group are at a very high risk of fatal and non-fatal overdose. This is backed up by the evidence. For example, one recent health study of homeless people in two Irish cities (Dublin and Limerick) found that 73% of those surveyed reported having drug or alcohol problems. Also, according to the Health Research Board in 2015 (the latest available data), two out of three overdose deaths involved polydrug use.

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