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British Drug Deaths Hit All-Time High

By Beenthere2Hippie, Sep 9, 2016 | Updated: Sep 9, 2016 | | |
  1. Beenthere2Hippie
    Drug-related deaths in England and Wales have hit record levels, official statistics show. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures reveal that a total of 3,674 drug poisoning deaths involving legal and illegal substances were recorded in 2015, up from 3,346 in 2014 and the most since comparable records began in 1993.

    The ONS also found that cocaine deaths reached an all-time high in 2015, and that deaths involving heroin and/or morphine have doubled over three years to reach record levels.

    The record death toll has led to Prime Minister Theresa May facing a barrage of criticism over the policies she pursued while Home Secretary, with Niamh Eastwood, the executive director of drugs and drugs law charity Release, saying: “The Home Office’s pursuit of a ‘tough on drugs’ strategy and refusal to acknowledge the evidence for best practice in drug treatment is quite literally killing people.”

    She was backed by Martin Powell, of the Transform Drug Policy Foundation, who said: “The Home Office – under Theresa May’s watch – is responsible for the highest number of drug deaths ever recorded.

    “That the Prime Minister keeps claiming her drug policy is working should send a chill down the spine of every parent and reasonable person in the country.

    “She knows, from countless studies, what keeps communities safe, and it isn't driving people away from help and into the hands of criminals. It is responsible reforms that take the drug market away from dealers, and puts it into the hands of doctors and pharmacists.”

    The ONS figures also show that the mortality rate from drug misuse is now at the highest level ever recorded, at 43.8 deaths per million people.

    A total of 1,201 deaths involving heroin and/or morphine were recorded last year, and the 320 deaths involving cocaine that were registered in 2015 represented an almost 30 per cent increase on the 2014 total of 247.

    The ONS figures also showed that 2,479 (67 per cent) of the drugs deaths registered in 2015 involved illegal drugs only – a 10 per cent increase on the corresponding 2014 total and the third year in a row that this figure has increased.

    This rising death toll led Ms Eastwood to claim the Government’s “ideologically driven” drugs policy was partly causing the increase in deaths.

    She said: “The shocking rise in drug misuse deaths for the third year running raises serious concerns about the Government’s drug policy and the state of the drug treatment sector in this country.

    “Since 2010, we have seen a worrying implementation of abstinence-based treatment under the Government’s ideologically-driven ‘recovery’ agenda.

    “This goes against all the evidence for best practice in drug treatment, and is contributing, we believe, to this shameful rise in deaths. Such a hostile environment means people simply don’t want to access treatment.”

    One example of the effect of current Government policy, she said, involved “an increasing number of cases in recent years whereby people are being forced to reduce their opioid substitution therapy (OST) prescriptions, or indeed have had them removed altogether”.

    Ms Esastwood added: “This is despite OST being well-evidenced in providing stability to people’s lives and it being a vital component of treating opioid dependence. Rapidly removing OST for those who need it can force people back to the black market and significantly increase the risk of death.”

    She said the push for people to be ‘drug-free’ had been accompanied by “a worrying cut in funding to community and treatment services nationally, which has impacted on the level of care being offered to an extremely vulnerable and marginalized group”.

    Government drugs policy was also criticised by Rose Humphries, of the Anyone’s Child families for safer drug control group, who lost her sons Roland and Jake to heroin when they were aged 23 and 37 respectively.

    Ms Humphries, 70, a retired school governor from Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, said: “Bitter experience has taught us that the current drugs policy doesn’t work.

    “It didn’t protect my children and it probably won’t protect yours. If heroin had been legally regulated, when my son relapsed he could have had access to a clinic with a safe dose and counselling.”

    The ONS statistics were issued as an independent expert group convened by Public Health England and the Local Government Association issued a series of recommendations on how to tackle the rising death toll, including a call for improved access to good quality drug treatment.

    Rosanna O’Connor, Director of drugs, alcohol and tobacco at Public Health England, said: “Drug use is the fourth most common cause of death for those aged 15-49 in England and we know that the majority of those dying from opiates have either never, or not recently, been in treatment.

    “Reassuringly, overall drug use has declined and treatment services have helped many people to recover, but there is a need for an enhanced effort to ensure the most vulnerable can access treatment.”

    The expert group said that the reasons for the rising death toll were complex, but could be linked to the an increasing purity of drugs like heroin and an ageing group of heroin users who have multiple physical and mental health problems.

    Despite the recent ban on so-called legal highs, the experts also noted that deaths associated with ‘new psychoactive substances’ – while still relatively low compared to fatalities caused by other substances – were increasing.

    They concluded that http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/legal-highs-law-banned-thursday-psychoactive-substances-act-critics-professor-nutt-a7035951.htmllegal high deaths “may present a more significant problem in the future, especially as not enough is known about the long term effects of their use”.

    By Adam Lusher - the Independent/Sept. 9, 2016
    Photo: Independent
    Newshawk Crew

    Author Bio

    BT2H is a retired news editor and writer from the NYC area who, for health reasons, retired to a southern US state early, and where BT2H continues to write and to post drug-related news to DF.


  1. malsat
    Typical. Blanket ban leads to increased NPS deaths. Who could possibly have seen this coming, right. This is the first I've heard of ms may beyond her having taken the leadership of the country and I now feel deep pity for anyone in England, seeing how she treats the worst off under her care.
  2. Beenthere2Hippie
    Aging UK Heroin Addicts and More Pure Product Spell Trouble

    [IMGL=white]https://drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=52256&stc=1&d=1473703106[/IMGL]The number of drug-related deaths in Britain is at its highest level since records began, following a rise in the purity of heroin available on UK streets as well as ageing addicts. The new figures issued by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveal a sharp rise in the number of men dying as a result of heroin or morphine poisoning, proportionately contributing to the overall death rate in Britain.

    Just over two-thirds of drug-related deaths were men with 2,547 dying compared with 1,127 women who passed away due to drug poisoning. The biggest rise in the number of people dying from heroin or morphine poisoning occurred in addicts aged between 50 and 59.

    "Age is also a factor in the record levels of drug deaths," Fearn added.

    There were also 320 deaths involving the class A substance, cocaine, that's 73 more than in 2014 when 247 people died. Once again, like heroin, the majority of cocaine-related deaths are men aged between 30 and 49. According to the Home Office Crime Survey for England and Wales 2016, cocaine is the second most popular drug after cannabis, with cocaine becoming increasingly purer which could account for the increase in deaths.

    "Since cocaine is often taken alongside heroin, it is likely that changes in purity and availability of heroin, as well as increases in the purity of cocaine, are contributing to the rise in deaths involving cocaine in recent years," according to the ONS.

    Sputnik/Sept. 12, 2016
    Photo: Pixabay
    Newshawk Crew
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