Drug workers in Cork fear higher potency ecstasy will soon be available in Ireland and have urged people to take care ahead of this weekend's Electric Picnic and the imminent start of the college year.
It follows the recent death of Clonmel teenager Jack Downey, who died after taking a substance at the Indiependence Music Festival in Mitchelstown.
And last weekend, four people – in their late teens and early 20s – were treated in hospital after taking substances at the Charlie Chaplin festival in Waterville in Kerry.
They had all taken drugs and had severe side effects and were brought by ambulance to Tralee A&E over the past three days.
Since Jack Downey's death, his parents Johnny, originally from Glengarriff, and Elaine, have spoken out about the dangers of drug consumption.
David Lane of the HSE's Drug and Alcohol Taskforce for Cork and Kerry said there is a trend emerging across Europe of a higher potency Ecstasy on the market.
He said it is only a matter of time before this reaches the Irish market and that users do not know the potency of any drug they are taking.
Mr Lane continued: “There are significant risks when you do not know what you are taking.”
He added: “The bottom line is that this is about saving lives. There is a threat of overdose, there is a threat of death.”
The message from the HSE is:
1. Start with a very small dose and see how you react to the drug. Wait at least two hours before taking more.
2. Do not mix drugs.
3. Keep cool and stay hydrated
4. Don’t be afraid to get help. Be honest with emergency services about what was taken, they are there to help.