Now that the summer festival season is in full swing, and people from across Northern Ireland are heading out to enjoy themselves, the Public Health Agency (PHA) is reminding revellers that taking drugs is always a risk.
The PHA is also specifically warning about of the risk of taking Para –Methyl-4-Methylaminorex (4,4’-DMAR), which has been linked to a number of recent deaths in Northern Ireland.
Victoria Creasy, Senior Health and Wellbeing Improvement Officer with the PHA, said: “We believe that 4,4’-DMAR may still be available here, and know that it has been linked to fatalities, so it is essential that people are aware of the risk it poses. We are also urging people generally to be vigilant if they take any drug, as there is a good chance the contents won’t be what you believe. For example, pills sold as ecstasy are frequently found to contain other drugs with less predictable and more dangerous effects.”
The PHA stresses that the only way to avoid all risks is to not take any substances which are not prescribed for you.
Whilst the majority of people do not take drugs, the PHA acknowledges that a minority of people will take substances. The following guidance is given for this group of people which can help reduce the risk to health and life. The advice doesn’t guarantee your safety, but it will help reduce risks.
• Start low and go slow – take a small amount at first and do not re-dose until you are sure the drug has reached its peak
• Don’t mix drugs with alcohol or other drugs; the majority of people who die after taking drugs have taken two or more substances (including alcohol)
• Don’t continue taking drugs over extended periods of time – continuing to do so for 24 hours or longer puts you at higher risk of illness or death
• When coming down, plan a safe place to go with people who can support you, and avoid taking other drugs or alcohol as this can increase the risk of overdose
Victoria added: “If you are prone to feeling low, or have any mental health conditions, coming down from drugs can make you feel worse, so the best advice is to avoid taking anything not prescribed for you.
“We want people to enjoy themselves over the summer, but to do so safely. Festivals are great fun, but things can quickly turn bad if drugs become involved.”
If you have concerns that you are becoming dependent on a substance, your GP can refer you confidentially to help and support.
Public Health Agency
Linenhall Street Unit
12-22 Linenhall Street