Press Release

8,922 people were treated for problem drug use in 2017, new official figures have revealed

8,922 people were treated for problem drug use in 2017, new official figures have revealed


Merchants Quay Ireland (MQI), the national homeless and addiction charity, has today said the latest drug treatment statistics show an ongoing addiction crisis in Ireland.

The figures, published today by the Health Research Board, show that there were 8,922 people treated for problematic drug use in 2017.  The figures show that opiates – particularly heroin – remain the most common drug reported among people seeking treatment. They also show a substantial increase in the number of people reporting cocaine as their primary drug.

Previous figures for 2011 showed that 6.2% of people being treated for drug use were homeless. This increased to 9.6% in 2017.

The HRB figures are mirrored in Merchants Quay Ireland’s own services, which saw a 122% increase in reported use of crack cocaine in Dublin over the last year, and a 67% increase at its Midlands service.

Responding to the statistics, Merchants Quay Ireland CEO Paula Byrne said:

“Today’s figures lay out the scale of the addiction crisis in Ireland. We are seeing substantial increases in treatment for cocaine use, a trend reflected in Merchants Quay’s own services across Ireland.

“Since 2011, the proportion of people in drug treatment who are homeless has gone up by over 60%. It’s clear that Ireland’s housing crisis is having a devastating effect.

“The Government must ensure that treatment is available for all those who need it, whatever the nature of their addiction and whatever their circumstance.”


For more information, please contact:

Tom Sheppard
Communications Co-Ordinator
Merchants Quay Ireland
T: 01 531 2958
M: 086 779 3206

Twitter: @MerchantsQuayIR


About Merchants Quay Ireland

Merchants Quay Ireland is a leading Irish charity working with people who are homeless and in addiction. The organisation provides services ranging from open access crisis intervention and health promotion services to day-support programmes, educational programmes, vocational training, residential treatment, detox and prison counselling.

To find out more about Merchants Quay Ireland’s work, please see our newly released short film:

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