HSE issues warning after sharp increase in heroin overdoses in Dublin

Concern following spike of more than a dozen suspected overdoses in the city, thought to be related to ‘new sources’ of drug

Health authorities have issued a warning about a potentially dangerous supply of heroin being in circulation after more than a dozen people overdosed from the drug on Thursday.

In a statement, the Health Service Executive (HSE) said it was “aware of a number of overdoses” in Dublin city that were believed to be related to “new sources of heroin” in circulation.

Prof Eamon Keenan, HSE addiction services clinical lead, said tests were under way to establish more information on what was an “emerging situation”.

“We ask that people are extra cautious during this period while we identify what may be leading to overdoses,” he said.


Dr Austin O’Carroll, a general practitioner who works with homeless people, said he was aware of 13 suspected heroin overdoses on Thursday morning.

“The concern is, is it a bad batch of heroin or are there other substances involved?” he told The Irish Times.

Dr O’Carroll said his clinic had treated two of the people who had overdosed, who were revived after being administered the drug Naloxone. The GP said that while he had seen “spikes” previously, the “high number” of overdoses at present was “definitely unusual”.

He said he had not heard of any fatalities from the cluster of recent suspected overdoses.

Preliminary tests by the HSE had only been able to confirm the overdoses were linked to heroin, so further tests were needed, he said.

Tony Duffin, chief executive of the Ana Liffey drug project, said services working with drug users were “very concerned” about the “worrying” increase in overdoses.

“It’s clear that we don’t know what it is yet, we expect in the next 24 hours the HSE will be able to tell us more ... The key right now is to find out what we are dealing with” he said.

In an alert, the HSE advised people who use heroin to avoid buying new batches of the drug, due to the increased risk at present.

“We ask service providers to notify their service users who may be at increased risk and help support them to reduce harms during this time,” Prof Keenan said. “At present, this issue appears contained to the Dublin city area but we will continue to monitor and update as necessary.”

The HSE advised people using heroin to avoid taking the drug alone and to not buy from new suppliers.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is acting Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times