Press Release

‘Every drug death is a family tragedy’ – Merchants Quay Ireland marks International Overdose Awareness Day

‘Every drug death is a family tragedy’ – Merchants Quay Ireland marks International Overdose Awareness Day


Merchants Quay Ireland (MQI), the national homeless and addiction charity, has marked International Overdose Awareness Day (31 August 2019) by calling for full implementation of the National Drugs Strategy.

In 2016, 735 people in Ireland died from a drug-related cause – the fourth highest rate of drug-related deaths in Europe, with an average of one person dying from an overdose each day.

The charity is calling for urgent implementation of the National Drugs Strategy to reduce the number of overdose deaths and increase access to treatment, including:

  • Roll out of Naloxone for people in addiction and their loved ones
  • The delivery of a Medically Supervised Injecting Facility in Dublin
  • Funding for additional detox beds and rehabilitation beds

MQI also highlighted the importance of providing support for families affected by addiction and the need for accessible family supports throughout the country.

Speaking ahead of International Overdose Awareness Day, CEO of Merchants Quay Ireland, Paula Byrne said:

“Every drug death is a family tragedy. When a person is lost to overdose, it creates a ripple effect that reverberates through families, communities, and even generations.

“International Overdose Awareness Day invites us to pause and reflect on all those whose lives have been lost to addiction, and the impact of that loss on the families left behind. This suffering in communities right across Ireland is preventable.

“We have a health-led, progressive drugs strategy, but it will be worth nothing if the scale of human suffering through addiction is not reduced, and all parts of Irish society will need to play a role.



For more information please contact:

Tom Sheppard
Communications Co-Ordinator
Merchants Quay Ireland
T: 01 531 2958
M: 086 7793 206

Twitter: @MerchantsQuayIR


Notes to the Editor

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.


About International Overdose Awareness Day
Held on 31st August every year, the aim of IOAD is to raise awareness, reduce the stigma of drug-related deaths, remember those who have died or suffered permanent injury because of drug overdose and stimulate discussion about overdose prevention and drug policy.
Convened by Australian charity Penington Institute, the day features rallies, memorial services, candlelight vigils as well as education and training campaigns in towns and cities across the world.


About drug-related deaths in Ireland
According to the Health Research Board, in 2016 (the most recent available figures) 736 people died as a result of drugs, and 354 of these were as a result of poisoning.

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