‘Tolerance levels have changed' – HSE warns people to ‘go slow' if taking drugs as stronger MDMA and cocaine hit the streets

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A new public health campaign has highlighted that club drugs such as MDMA and cocaine are increasing in strength throughout Europe and escalating the risk of overdoses.

The HSE has launched its ‘If you Go, Go Slow’ campaign, which is encouraging people who decide to use drugs to consider the damage that could be done before taking them.

To coincide with the reopening of the night-time sector today, the HSE’s Drugs.ie team is unveiling the new initiative, which brings together key stakeholders to share harm prevention information and to discuss the benefits of providing health and social interventions in nightlife settings.

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As part of the scheme, a live panel will discuss the changing drug landscape and consider safer nightlife responses with insights from the HSE, DJs and event industry representatives.

Speaking ahead of the campaign launch, HSE national clinical lead for addiction services Dr Eamon Keenan, said: “Not everyone who socialises in nightlife venues uses substances, but we are aware of increasing levels of stimulant use among young people in Ireland.

“We are also seeing use occurring in extra risky ways with people taking multiple substances at a time.”

“Based on the reopening of nightlife in the UK earlier this year, we have a number of concerns in relation to overdose and fatalities happening at this time.

“We are aware that the current drug market trends may lead to the increased likelihood of overdose and people may be at greater risk due to time off from using drugs. Tolerance levels may have changed,” he added.

The HSE is advising the public that while it is safer not to use drugs at all, people should consider the steps they can take with an aim to minimise the harms to their health.

The campaign’s objectives include; starting a conversation on nightlife risks around stimulant culture in nightlife venues, raising awareness that drugs.ie is the place to go for drug safety information, informing people on how to reduce the harms from stimulants and educating people that drugs may be of higher potency and strength and their tolerance might be lower.

As part of ‘If you Go, Go Slow’, Drugs.ie is reminding the public that club drugs such as MDMA and cocaine are increasing in strength throughout Europe and increasing the risk of overdoses.

The campaign’s organisers say new substances can appear in pills, powders crystals and cannabis products.

High strength drugs and new drugs are appearing, increasing the risk of overdose, contaminants may also be present, and a number of alerts have been recently issued in the UK about MDMA pills, powders and crystals found in nightlife settings according to the HSE.

First time nightclub-goers are also being warned that if they take drugs, they could react differently in new settings and before taking drugs, they should consider if their tolerance has changed or if they have concerns about their mood or mental health.

The HSE is also warning that people should not feel the need to ‘make up for lost time’, which could lead to using substances in riskier ways.

Minister of State with responsibility for the National Drugs Strategy Frank Feighan said: “A key objective of the National Drugs Strategy aims to develop harm reduction interventions targeting at risk groups, and it is crucial we make these interventions available in all settings, including the night-time economy.

“I strongly encourage everyone attending events within the night-time economy, and those who are putting on events, to take on board these messages.”

“It is of the upmost importance that those who put on events and festivals within the night-time economy, build harm reduction and prevention measures into their events. It is imperative that when people go out to enjoy themselves that they can do so in a safe environment and the provision of these harm reduction messages and services will ensure that,” he added.

More information about the campaign is available at drugs.ie/afterlockdown and on social media with the hashtag #IfYouGoGoSlow.

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