The number of deaths from drugs in Ireland has increased by 225% in 25 years, according to research conducted by a network of community organisations nationwide.

CityWide Drugs Crisis Campaign said prosecutions for drug possession in the same period are up by almost 500%.

It said a National Drugs Strategy based on listening to community voices, working through inter-agency partnership and responding to community needs is required.

This morning, Taoiseach Micheál Martin will open a webinar hosted by Citywide which will mark 25 years since the publication of the Rabbitte Report.

Published in 1996, it was the first report by a task force to reduce demand for drugs. The group comprised of Ministers of State under the chairmanship of Pat Rabbitte.

Local Drug Task Forces were created to provide a coordinated response to drug problems.

CityWide has called on the Taoiseach to establish a Citizens' Assembly on Drugs - as promised in the Programme for Government - next year so the country can "rethink its approach to drugs".

In the Dáil last week, Mr Martin acknowledged the need for such an assembly.

The Taoiseach also confirmed that his officials had been asked to draw up a "broader programme" to create pathways for people out of disadvantaged areas.

Citywide statistics show that in 1996, 4,858 people were in treatment for drugs. Latest figures show 9,702 people are in treatment.

It said that while the use of opiates and ecstasy had declined over the period (by 7% and 88% respectively), all other drugs have seen large increases in usage.

Citywide also said that the use of cocaine has risen by 10,376%, benzodiazepines by 824% and cannabis by 263%.