Press Release

‘Treatment is only possible if someone is still alive’

‘Treatment is only possible if someone is still alive’


Homeless and drugs organisations urge opioid users to take up ‘overdose antidote’ training


A coalition of homelessness and drugs organisations have come together to rollout nationwide Naloxone training as part of International Overdose Awareness Day 2018 (31st August).

The organisations – Merchants Quay Ireland, the Simon Communities of Ireland, Pavee Point, Novas, the Union for Improved Services, Communication and Education (UISCE), and the National Family Support Network – are encouraging people who use opioids to get trained in how to administer Naloxone. Ireland has the fourth highest rate of drug-related deaths in Europe, and a recent study of over 400 Irish opioid users found that just over half were aware of Naloxone.

Naloxone is a medicine that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose within minutes, keeping a person alive until emergency services arrive. The training only takes fifteen minutes to complete, is free of charge, with Naloxone being prescribed to opioid users on the day.

Tony Geoghegan, CEO of Merchants Quay Ireland and spokesperson for the coalition, said:

“On 31st August 2018, we mark International Overdose Awareness Day by remembering those who have been lost to addiction, but it is also an opportunity to prevent more unnecessary deaths.

“We want people in addiction to have the possibility of treatment and recovery, but treatment is only possible if someone is still alive. Training in Naloxone is simple and takes just fifteen minutes. That training can help keep someone alive, giving them a real chance at recovery.”

Sadie Grace, CEO, National Family Support Network said:

“The National Family Support Network works with families who have lost loved ones to drug use and with those who are terrified of experiencing this loss every day of their lives. We know first-hand the impact that Naloxone can have on the lives and quality of life of families in Ireland.

“We encourage family members affected by substance misuse to become trained in the use of Naloxone, while the prescription for the product will only be given to the person who uses drugs, there is an option to get two products and to give the second one to a family member or friend. The National Family Support Network is here for all families affected by addiction and can refer you to local supports in your area”

Corrine Doyle, Drug & Alcohol Coordinator, Pavee Point said:

“Pavee Point Drug & Alcohol Programme’s central focus is to support the inclusion of and develop responses to the needs of the Travelling community in relation to drug use. We understand the devastating effect that drug-related deaths (as any death) can have on both families and communities. It is envisioned that International Overdose Awareness Day will continue to raises awareness on overdose with a focus on reducing stigma and providing information on preventative measures.

“Naloxone can save your life or the life of a loved one and we encourage anyone who is actively using drugs or their loved ones to be trained in using Naloxone.”

A spokesperson for UISCE, the representative body for people who use drugs in Ireland said:

“On International Overdose Awareness Day, we’re glad that we can raise awareness of overdose and provide the community of people who use drugs in Ireland the opportunity of getting trained in the use of Naloxone.

“Through our engagement with people who use drugs we learned that not everybody that is at risk of overdosing knows what Naloxone is or how to get it.  Our hope this year is to empower people who use drugs to ask their GP about Naloxone, get trained in how to use it and to spread the message that Naloxone saves lives.”


For more information or to arrange an interview with our spokesperson, Tony Geoghegan, please contact:

Andrew Rooney
Communications Officer
Merchants Quay Ireland
T: 01 531 2958
M: 086 7793 208

About the Naloxone training

Naloxone training has been organised at the following locations:

  • Dublin: Merchants Quay Ireland, Riverbank building, 13 Merchant’s Quay, Dublin 8
    • Time: 9.30AM to 4.30PM
  • Cork: Cork Simon Day Centre, 9 Anderson’s Quay, Centre, Cork
    • Time: 11AM, 1PM & 3PM
  • Limerick: Novas, McGarry House, 7 Alphonsus St, Limerick
    • Time: 10:30AM – 4PM

About International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD)

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 the survey

The survey was conducted by Merchants Quay Ireland, Dublin Simon, Pavee Point, the Union for Improved Services, Communication and Education, and the National Family Support Network. Respondents were clients and primary workers of those organisations and it was conducted during the week commencing 11th June. Full details are in the table below.


Question 1 – Do you know what Naloxone is? Question 2 – Do you know how to get Naloxone?
Yes No Yes No
225 214 201 236
Percentage 51% 49% 46% 54%
TOTAL 439 437*

* Two people chose not to respond to this question

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