Drug-related Deaths in England & Wales Reach Highest Figure on Record

Modesto Morganelli
Agosto 7, 2018

A total of 3,756 deaths involving legal and illegal drugs were recording in England and Wales in 2017.

According to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), fatalities involving fentanyl were up by 29%, with 75 deaths in 2017, compared to 58 in the previous year.

There were 75 deaths linked with fentanyl in England and Wales in 2017, up by almost a third from the 2016 statistic of 58.

The drug has been found mixed with heroin, causing accidental overdoses in users.

But statisticians argued last year's death rate remains similar to 2016, when there were 3,744 deaths related to drug poisoning.

However, deaths involving both opioids decreased by four per cent past year to 1,164, the first decline since 2012. There were 432 cocaine-related deaths, almost four times the level in 2011.

Deaths involving heroin and morphine are 10 times higher than they were in 1993, when just 115 fatalities were recorded.

And fatalities from so-called "legal highs", such as spice, reduced by more than a half in 2017, from 123 in 2016 to 61.

In a press release, Eastwood also noted that the government has consistently opposed the introduction of drug consumption rooms (DCRs) - medical facilities which provide sterile drug use equipment in safes space overseen by health professionals. In 2016, the government introduced a blanket ban on the importation, production or supply of most NPS.

Last year, there were 2,521 male drug-related deaths and 1,235 female. London had the lowest number of deaths.

The ongoing criminalisation of people for personal drug use and possession, Eastwood says, is "dissuading people who want help from seeking it [which in turn] is fuelling drug-related deaths".

"The big concern for us in relation to recreational drug users is the five-fold increase in ecstasy deaths and the three-fold increase in cocaine related deaths", she said, adding that these were being caused by higher purity or contaminated substances being sold.

Karen Tyrell, executive director at the drugs charity Addaction, described the statistics as devastating. We have so much more to do.

She said that for many, drug use is a "symptom" of past trauma, abuse or current problems in their lives, rather than "the core of the problem itself".

"Nobody wakes up in the morning and decides to become dependent on drugs. The reality is there aren't enough trustworthy places to get support around drugs and alcohol".

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