Detectives are investigating a number of recent sudden deaths in Belfast involving teenagers and people in their early twenties.
District Commander Belfast City, Chief Superintendent Chris Noble said: “While most post-mortem examinations have been carried out, we are waiting for the results of toxicology tests to determine the cause of each tragic death.
“However in some instances, possible links to drug or substance abuse are strong lines of enquiry. Our advice is very simple: Do not take illegal drugs, do not take prescription medication that has not been prescribed for you and do not mix either with alcohol.
“The consequences of ignoring this advice can be life-threatening. We do not want officers calling with families of loved ones to deliver the heart-breaking news that someone is seriously ill, or has died as a result of drug or substance abuse.
He added: “Anyone who is suspected of involvement in the supply of drugs can expect to be arrested by police and presented before the courts.
“Police will continue to disrupt and arrest drug dealers involved in the sale and supply of drugs, bring individuals before the courts and work with communities and partner agencies to reduce the threat of harmful and illegal activity.
“We are asking everyone for their support and co-operation in tackling this problem through the criminal justice system. If you are concerned about your own or someone else’s drug use, there are a number of services that can help you including your GP. For a list of services operating in your local area visit www.drugsandalcoholni.info/
“Do not be tempted to take drugs or other substances. If you see or know of anyone who is dealing drugs in your local area, contact your local police on 101 or call 999 in an emergency. Alternatively, you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 and pass on any details that you may have.”
Speaking to Daily Belfast, Sinn Féin Councilor Steven Corr said: “The Falls Community Council’s community drug programme is encouraging parents to talk to their children about the risks associated with drinking alcohol and taking drugs.
“It is a time when many will go out with friends to celebrate and due to such festivities there is a risk of excessive drinking or drug taking or in some cases both.
“We are asking parents to talk to their young people about such risks and the importance of staying safe, to know where they are going and who they are going with.
“We provide a support service for parents concerned about a family member or indeed anyone who would like some information or one to one support with regards to a drug or alcohol issue. Contact us at Falls Community council 275-277 Falls Road, Belfast on 02890202030. We would like to this opportunity to wish everyone a safe and happy new year.”