Detectives are investigating a number of recent sudden deaths in Belfast - with a possible link to drugs or substance abuse.
Some of the deaths have involved 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.”
And he warned those taking and mixing illicit drugs that they were playing a ‘lottery of death’.
He said, “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.”
Ch Supt Noble added, “Drugs bring misery to individuals, families and communities. There is no such a thing as recreational drugs. All drugs that are not taken as prescribed by your own doctor can be lethal.
“The consumption and mixing of illegal drugs can be a lottery of death as it is often unclear what the substance is, its strength or the harm it can do to your body.”
He had this to say to dealers, “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.”
The officer offered this advice, “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.”