Drug deaths across North West highest since records began

Date published: 14 October 2020

Drug-related deaths in England and Wales have reached the highest number since records began back in 1993, the Office for National Statistics has revealed. 

And unfortunately, the ONS has also revealed that the same can be said for drug-related deaths across the North West. 

Detailed analysis of ONS data by drug addiction treatment experts UKAT shows that the North West region has seen a 22% rise in drug poisoning deaths in the last six years.

The ONS report reveals that between 2017-19, drug poisoning deaths across the North West reached a record high of 2,037, up from 1,888 between 2016-18 and up from just 1,658 in 2013-15.

Men account for 67% (1,375) of all drug poisoning deaths in the North West between 2017-19, a percentage which is on an upwards trend, with UKAT showing that in 2013-15, just 65% of drug poisoning deaths happened in men living in the North West. 

In 2013-15 34% of all registered drug poisoning deaths were female, creeping down to 32% of all registered drug poisoning deaths in today's latest figures. 

UKAT's analysis shows that deaths in Blackpool have risen from 88 to 106 in just six years, a 20% rise.

Deaths in Blackburn with Darwen have risen by 65%, from 38 to 63 in six years.

In Warrington, drug poisoning deaths are up by 18%; from 43 to 51 in six years and for Cheshire West and Chester, up by 19%. 

Across Cumbria, deaths are up by 40% and across Greater Manchester, drug deaths have risen from 636 to 745; a 17% rise.

Deaths across Lancashire are up by 37% and in Merseyside, up by 22% in just six years.

The only large area in the North West that has seen a fall in drug poisoning deaths is across Cheshire East, where deaths have fallen by 4%. 

Drug addiction experts at UKAT - who analysed today's ONS figures - urge councils across the North West to invest in drug and alcohol treatment services to avoid more loss of life;

Nuno Albuquerque, Group Treatment Lead at UKAT (www.ukat.co.uk), said: “These ONS figures are saddening but unsurprising.

"It is here in black and white, the situation is only getting worse for those most vulnerable in society.

"We urge councils across the North West to invest in effective drug and alcohol services in their 2021 budget to avoid even more loss of life.

“We must remember that these aren't just numbers; they're someone's mother, father, child or friend who has lost their lives to drugs and we can't stress enough the value of investing in the treatment of addiction.

“2020 has proven to be a difficult year for many.

"Some will undoubtedly turn to misusing drugs as a coping mechanism.

"Our fear is that these figures could tip off the scale in next year’s report unless Councils here take proactive, preventative action today in order to save lives tomorrow.”

Substances involved in the drug-poisoning deaths registered in the North West report have not been revealed by the ONS, however, in its national report, also released today, UKAT has discovered that both legal and illegal drugs are accounted for in the drug death rates. 

Collectively, UKAT’s analysis of the National ONS data shows that for the types of drugs that can be prescribed by GPs - Tramadol, Codeine, Dihydrocodeine, Antidepressants, Zopiclone, Benzodiazepines, Antipsychotics and even Paracetamol - the death count in 2019 stood at 1,805; 40% of all drug deaths registered last year (4,393).

This is significantly higher than the collective number of deaths from the same drugs ten years ago, which stood at 1,360. 

Their analysis also shows that the number of deaths from illegal drugs such as Cannabis in 2019 are the highest on record and that Cocaine deaths rose for the eighth consecutive year to their highest level - accounting for 16% of all deaths across England and Wales last year. 

Help, support and a free 24/7 live chat support service for drug abuse can be found at: www.ukat.co.uk/drugs/v58/ 

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