New HSE/Merchants Quay Ireland (MQI) report highlights the latest drug trends among injecting drug users in Ireland

Today (Wednesday, 10th August 2022), the HSE in partnership with Merchants Quay Ireland (MQI) launched the findings from the Syringe Analysis Pilot Project.

The HSE National Drug Treatment Centre Laboratory led on the application of this innovative process. 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.

Prof Eamon Keenan, National Clinical Lead, 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 project demonstrates the successful collaboration between a harm reduction service and laboratory to identify drug trends to inform health-led responses. The findings from this study can now be used to inform interventions provided by MQI and other similar services.

Paula Byrne, CEO, Merchants Quay Ireland (MQI) 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. 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 recommendations have been made based on the report’s findings such as improving harm reduction responses and improving analytical techniques to identify drug trends of concern.

Last updated on: 10 / 08 / 2022