Press Release

MQI calls for implementation of national drug strategy to mark International Overdose Awareness Day 

MQI calls for implementation of national drug strategy to mark International Overdose Awareness Day


Merchants Quay Ireland (MQI), the national homeless and addiction charity, has marked International Overdose Awareness Day (31st August 2020) by calling for full implementation of the National Drugs Strategy.

In 2017, 786 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.

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

  • Increasing access to Naloxone for all
  • Delivering a Medically Supervised Injecting Facility in Dublin
  • Funding for additional detox and rehabilitation beds

MQI also highlighted the importance of providing accessible support for families affected by addiction 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:

Laura McDowell
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 experiencing homelessness and people who use drugs. The organisation provides services ranging from crisis and case management, healthcare services, harm reduction and family support to residential and community detox & rehabilitation, aftercare and prison-based addiction 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 2017 (the most recent available figures) 786 people died as a result of drugs, and 376 of these were as a result of poisoning.


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