Drugs crisis in Northern Ireland laid bare as figures show 40% rise in deaths

Caitlin White was like any other 15-year-old girl. She enjoyed spending time with friends and worked hard in school - with a particular love of art.

However, in May 2017, everything changed.

In a woodland in Portadown, Caitlin took an ecstasy pill and collapsed while there with friends.

She died in Craigavon Area Hospital a short time later despite attempts to save her.

Her family is now calling for better education for young people about the dangers drugs pose.

Speaking exclusively to UTV, in her first TV interview, Caitlin's aunt said she lives with the memory of seeing her niece shortly before she died.

As Caitlin's family continue to deal with their loss, figures released by Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency show a rise in drug-related deaths over the past decade.

Last year, 154 people died from a drug-related cause. That marks a 40% increase over the last decade.

More than half of drug-related deaths involved an opioid such as heroin and morphine.

Pressures are now mounting on those working within rehabilitation centres as well as those working in primary care as they tackle Northern Ireland's drugs crisis.

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