Fentanyl and cocaine drug deaths rise

Source Release

Source Release

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

Deaths linked to cocaine and the painkiller fentanyl are rising, figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show.

The latest data showed the North East of England had a significantly higher rate of drug deaths than other regions - 83 per million people - followed by the North West of England and Wales.

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

ONS health analysis statistician, Ellie Osborn, said: "The figures published today show that the level of drug poisoning deaths in 2017 remained stable".

The number rose from 371 in 2016 to 432 a year ago, but it is not possible to distinguish if the substance related to these deaths was powder cocaine or crack cocaine.

The number of cocaine deaths rose from 371 in 2016 to 432 a year ago - but it is unsure whether these were down to the powder or crack. The drug, a unit of which can be up to 10,000 stronger than morphine, accounted for 27 deaths in 2017.

Prof Fiona Measham who, along with Dr Finch, is a member of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, also called for an increase for drug treatment funding.

Fatalities from "legal-highs" also decreased, from 123 in 2016, to 61 in 2017, following the government ban on psychoactive substances. The north-west had a rate of 64.7 deaths and Yorkshire and the Humber 54.5. London had the lowest number of 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. We have so much more to do.

Niamh Eastwood, executive director of Release - the UK's centre of expertise on drugs and drug laws - blamed the government for "driving this devastating public health crisis by punishing people for their drug use instead of implementing compassionate, evidence-based policies".

Internationally, there are many instances of successful drug policy reform reducing drug deaths that the United Kingdom government could learn from. Majority have had very hard, often traumatic lives and we're letting them down if we don't give them the best care that we can. "The reality is there aren't enough trustworthy places to get support around drugs and alcohol".

Notícias recomendadas

We are pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news.
Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper.
Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.