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Warning over drugs risk

Now that the summer festival season is in full swing, the Public Health Agency (PHA) is reminding people that taking drugs is always a risk. The only way to avoid risks is to not take any substances which are not prescribed for you.

4,4'-DMAR 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. It believes the drug may still be available here, so it is essential that people are aware of the risk it poses.

People are also urged to be vigilant if they take any drug, as there is a good chance the contents won’t be what they believe. For example, pills sold as ecstasy are frequently found to contain other drugs with less predictable and more dangerous effects.

If you do take drugs

While the majority of people do not take drugs, the PHA acknowledges that a minority of people will take substances. The following guidance, which can help reduce the risk to health and life, is given for this group of people. The advice doesn’t guarantee their safety, but it will help reduce risks.

Tips include:

  • start low and go slow – take a small amount at first and do not re-dose until 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 increases the risk of illness or death
  • when coming down, plan a safe place to go with people who can give support, and avoid taking other drugs or alcohol as this can increase the risk of overdose

If anyone is prone to feeling low, or have any mental health conditions, coming down from drugs can make them feel worse. The best advice is to avoid taking anything not prescribed for them.

If anyone has concerns that they are becoming dependent on a substance, their GP can refer them confidentially to help and support.

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