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Latest ONS figures show drug related deaths have risen to record levels

The latest drug related deaths figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) for England and Wales have reported an increase in drug related deaths in 2019.

 Some key figures from the data show:

  • there were 4,393 deaths related to drug poisoning registered in 2019. This is an increase on the 4,359 deaths registered in 2018 and the highest number of deaths since recording began in 1993.
  • rates are five and a half times higher for people living in deprived areas
  • the North East has asignificantly higher rate of deaths relating to drug misuse than all other English regions 
  • deaths involving cocaine increased for the eighth successive year – including a 26.5% increase for female deaths on the previous year

 Karen Tyrell, Executive Director at Humankind, said: “Sadly, year on year we are seeing an increase in drug related deaths and every single one has a huge impact on families and friends. Our thoughts go out to the thousands of people that have lost someone in these tragic circumstances.

 “There is still a huge amount of stigma for people that use drugs but we must remember that behind each of these numbers are individuals who have often been through traumatic events and are in desperate need of support to help them deal with that.

 “Every death is preventable and we believe there must be a step change to better support vulnerable people.  The fact that drug related death figures are highest in the North East, one of the most deprived areas in England, is not surprising. The use of drugs is often related to people’s circumstances and interlinked with housing, employment and mental health.

“Drug and alcohol treatment services are operating under immense pressure as funding continues to reduce but the Dame Carol Black review and lock down provide us with an opportunity for change.  

 "If you need drug and alcohol services, please do reach out. We’ll be there to help.”