Official figures reveal that 3,346 people died from drug poisoning last year in England and Wales while the mortality rate from drug misuse rose to 39.9 deaths per million. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), these are the highest numbers since modern records began in 1993.
Their latest report shows that over two-thirds of these deaths involved the use of illegal substances. Morphine and/or heroin-related deaths went from 579 to 952 between 2012 and 2014. Meanwhile, deaths involving cocaine increased sharply from 169 to 247 between 2013 and 2014.
A spokesperson from the ONS explained that the increase in cocaine-related deaths was related to the drug’s greater purity levels over the past two years. Adding to that are marked regional variations in the purity of crack, as suggested by the National Crime Agency.
A rise in the availability of super-strength ecstasy pills is also cited as a reason for the 50 deaths from Class A substances in 2014. At the same time, new psychoactive drugs (NPS) such as laughing gas and other ‘legal highs’ were linked to 67 deaths.
There were also 517 fatalities involving antidepressants, the most since 1999. Legal drugs which were misused and associated with deaths during this period include Diazepam, linked to 258 cases; codeine, associated with 136; and Tramadol, linked to 240 deaths.
The report added that males were over 2.5 times more likely to die from drug misuse than females. The numbers stood at 58.0 deaths per million for men compared to 21.9 deaths per million for women. The North East was also found to have the worst rates at 69.3 deaths per million while London had the lowest at 25.4 deaths per million.
A spokeswoman from The Department of Health said that although the country is seeing fewer heroin users per year, the harms are becoming increasingly concentrated among older users. This is particularly true for those who are not aware of local treatment services.
While it is true that overall illicit substance use has declined and modern solutions have helped many former addicts to recover, the figures still show the need for the country to boost its efforts. You can make a personal contribution by signing up friends and family members for drug rehab programmes should they have trouble quitting their dependency and making a change for the better.