Official figures show that drug deaths have risen sharply in England and Wales, reaching record numbers last year.
A total of 4,359 people died due to drug poisoning last year. This includes accidental overdoses and suicides from medicinal drugs, as well as illicit drug use.
Illicit drugs were the cause of 2,917 deaths in 2018, a rise of 17% according to the Office of National Statistics.
This is the biggest annual increase in drug deaths since records began in 1993.
Most deaths were due to opiates such as heroin, however, cocaine deaths have doubled in three years.
Professor Alex Stevens from the University of Kent, a government’s advisor on the misuse of drugs, said there had been a 47% increase in deaths from drug poisoning since 2013 and blamed cuts to treatment programmes.
“These treatments save lives. You’re about half as likely to die if you’re in opioid substitution treatment than if you’re not . They also save money by reducing costs for the NHS and reducing crime,” he said.
The highest death rate in England was in the North East whilst London had the lowest.
Deaths from new psychoactive substances – previously known as “legal highs”, until banned in 2016, doubled in one year to 125, following a fall the previous year. Ecstasy (MDMA) deaths rose to 92 from 56.
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