MQI marks International Overdose Awareness Day by Highlighting Experience of Women in Addiction


Merchants Quay Ireland, the national homeless and addiction charity, is today marking International Overdose Awareness Day by taking the time to bring awareness to the campaign to end overdose, remember those who have passed, and acknowledge the grief of the family and friends left behind.

Speaking to one of this year’s sub-themes, Overdose & Drug Use in the Female Population, it’s estimated that over 287,000 women in Ireland suffer from alcohol and drug use (HRB, 2021). MQI reports that on average, over the past three years, 20% of their clients were women. In 2021, only 23% of those accessing treatment with MQI were women.

Speaking about her past drug use, MQI client Cathy* says:


“Smoking heroin gave me a break from what I was thinking about, because a lot of stuff had happened to me at a young age that I didn’t have control over. I’d say coping with childhood trauma is one of the biggest things that drives women into addiction.”


Higher rates of gender-based violence, sex work and coercive control amongst women can leave them too ashamed, stigmatised and afraid to seek the help they need. International research shows that female-only spaces facilitate greater emotional and physical safety for women, especially those who have experienced trauma and abuse. Speaking today on a panel of experts at the IOAD webinar hosted by the HSE National Social Inclusion Office, in collaboration with the HSE National Office for Suicide Prevention, the Department of Health and Addiction & Advocacy Services, Byrne highlighted the progress made by MQI towards the delivery of female services and highlighted the continual need to develop these supports. This year, MQI launched Jane’s Place, a gender-specific service offering one-to-one support for women in addiction and homelessness. Since its launch in February 2022, 54 women have been supported at Jane’s Place.


Byrne says:

“The increasing number of women accessing Jane’s Place indicates the need to
continue developing our bespoke services for women across the country. MQI remains
absolutely committed to this goal.”




Notes to the editor:

● MQI saw a 4% increase in the number of overdoses for both men and women in 2021.
● MQI reports that on average, over the past three years, only 20% of their clients arewomen
● In 2021, 23% of those accessing treatment with MQI were women
● Since its launch in February 2022, 54 women have been supported at Jane’s Place.

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 open access crisis intervention and health promotion
services to day-support programmes, residential treatment, detox, and prison counselling.

MQI’s Open Access Centre in Dublin provides vital services such as food, showers, harm reduction,
healthcare and mental healthcare to approximately 10,000 people per year.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Laura McDowell
Communications Officer
086 779 3206

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