Press Release

New report highlights the latest drug trends among injecting drug users in Ireland

New report highlights the latest drug trends among injecting drug users in Ireland


The HSE in partnership with Merchants Quay Ireland, the national homeless and addiction charity, have today launched the findings from the Syringe Analysis Pilot Project.


The HSE National Drug Treatment Centre Laboratory led on the application of this innovative process and the Syringe Analysis Pilot Project is the first of its kind in Ireland, whereby community services and a laboratory have collaborated to conduct analysis to inform health-led responses.


Syringe analysis is a scientific approach that involves obtaining information through the analysis of the content of used syringes to help identify drug use trends at that particular point in time to inform tailored prevention interventions. The pilot project involved obtaining 155 used syringes from the Dublin and Midlands Region to identify the latest injecting drug trends.


Dr. Eamon Keenan, the National Clinical Lead of HSE Addiction Services says:


“The volatile nature of the drug market is a healthcare concern as new and more potent substances, including synthetic opioids continue to emerge on the European drug market. I am pleased to see that this project did not identify the emergence of synthetic opioids in the syringe samples; however, we must continue to monitor this situation closely. Through this pilot project we have confirmed the presence of new psychoactive substances on the drug market and the re-emergence of cocaine injecting. These findings require tailored health responses and further monitoring.”


This pilot demonstrates the successful collaboration between MQI harm reduction service and The HSE National Drug Treatment Centre Laboratory to identify drug trends in order to inform health-led responses. The findings from this study can now be used to inform interventions provided by MQI and other similar services.


MQI CEO Paula Byrne says:


“The data from this project complements existing data on substances, by providing timely and local information – it was important to include samples from both Dublin and the Midlands, and the analysis shows that substance use and trends differed across the two locations. The evidence from this pilot, highlights the need to conduct this analysis on an ongoing basis. I look forward to working collaboratively again on this project into the future.”


A series of research and policy recommendations have been made based on the report’s findings.


The full report is available for download here.



Key findings within this report


  • In total, 32 different drugs and metabolites were identified.
  • Heroin was the most prominent injected drug (93.3% Dublin and 98.2% Midlands Region)
  • New drugs have been identified such as the presence of 3-MMC (11.3% Dublin, 23.6% Midlands), Methamphetamine (32.6% Dublin, 18.2% Midlands) and the possible injection of the benzodiazepine flurazepam in the Midlands Region (12.7%)
  • Cocaine injecting has re-emerged as part of a polydrug pattern (86.5% Dublin, 89.1% Midlands)
  • Greater insight is needed on impurity across the drug market


Research and policy recommendations


Based on the Syringe Analysis Pilot Project, the following is recommended:


  1. The expansion of syringe analysis methodology for market monitoring purposes.
  2. Monitor signals on the emergence of stimulant injecting trends in Ireland.
  3. Combine syringe methodology with service user research
  4. Pilot analysis methods among other injecting user groups
  5. Continue to enhance harm reduction services for people who use drugs in Ireland.
  6. Further develop monitoring for health purposes.
  7. The implementation of the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre.


Notes to the editor:

About Merchants Quay Ireland

Merchants Quay Ireland is the national charity working with people who are homeless and in addiction. The organisation provides services ranging from crisis intervention and health promotion, to detox and rehab, aftercare and prison counselling.


For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Laura McDowell

Communications Officer

086 779 3206











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