Statistics from the NI Drug Misuse Database: 1 April 2015 – 31 March 2016

Date published: 22 December 2016

The Department of Health has published Statistics from the NI Drug Misuse Database.

Drugs Misuse Database

The bulletin summarises information on people presenting to services with problem drug misuse and relates to the 12-month period ending 31 March 2016.

Key Findings

  • In 2015/16, a total of 2,229 clients presented to services for problem drug misuse and gave their consent for their details to be included in the DMD.  This was similar to the number of clients (2,262) in 2014/15
  • Four-fifths of clients (79%) were male.  Male clients tended to be younger on average than female clients. A third of male clients (35%) were aged 18-25 while17% were aged over 40 years old.  For female clients, 29% were aged 18-25 and 32% were aged over 40 years old
  • Two-fifths of those presenting for treatment (40%) took just one drug, while a fifth (23%) took two drugs. A fifth of clients (19%) took four or more drugs
  • Four-fifths of all clients (82%) used at least one hypnotic drug, with 59% of all clients using a hypnotic drug as their main drug
  • Almost half of all clients (46%) used at least one stimulant drug, with it being the main drug for a fifth of all clients (18%)
  • Over a quarter of all clients (26%) used at least one opioid analgesic drug, with 20% of all clients using one as their main drug
  • Considering all drugs used by clients, the most commonly reported drug used was Cannabis (used by 66% of clients) followed by Benzodiazepines (37%) and Cocaine (35%)
  • Cannabis was used by 40% of clients as their main drug of misuse in 2015/16, similar to the figure in 2014/15
  • Over a quarter of those presenting for treatment (26%) had previously received treatment for their drug misuse
  • The proportion of clients that had ever injected drugs during their lifetime stood at 11% in 2015/16 
  • Between 2005/06 and 2015/16, use of Cocaine among clients rose from 25% to 35%, while use of Ecstasy (26% to 10%) and Heroin (13% to 10%) both fell

Notes to editors: 

1. The Bulletin is published on the Departmental website.

2. This information was collated by the Public Health Information and Research Branch (PHIRB) in the Department of Health.

3. A problem drug user is defined as a person who experiences social, psychological, physical or legal problems (related to intoxication and/or regular excessive consumption and/or dependence) as a consequence of their own use of drugs or chemical substances.

4. Drugs are defined as any drug, whether prescribed or not, including solvents and tranquillisers but excluding alcohol and tobacco.

5. The bulletin presents information on the profile of service users; drugs misused by those that presented for treatment; individuals’ previous history of treatment; injecting and sharing by drug users; and previous history of testing for viruses such as HIV and Hepatitis.

6. Participation in the DMD requires clients to give consent to their data being included.  Information relating to 2,340 individuals that presented to drug misuse treatment services in 2015/16 was received: in 2,229 cases (95%), individual consent was given for including data within the DMD.  Analyses are based on these 2,229 individuals. 

7. Further information on the Drug Misuse Database in NI is available at:

Public Health Information and Research Branch
Department of Health
Annexe 2, Castle Buildings
Stormont, BT4 3SQ
Tel: 028 90 522523

8. For media enquiries please contact the Department of Health Press Office on 9052 0074 or email:  For out of hours please contact to Duty Press Officer via pager number 07623 974383 and your call will be returned. Follow us on twitter @healthdpt

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