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UK Drug-Related Deaths at Highest Level Since Records Started being Kept

  1. Beenthere2Hippie
    Drug deaths are at the highest levels since records began, data has suggested.

    The number of people dying from drugs misuse has soared to 2,250 per year in 2014, almost triple the levels found when records began in 1993. The numbers have been increasing since then, with continual upward spikes year-on-year since a momentary drop in 2012.

    Of the deaths, the overwhelming majority died from accidental poisoning with the substances, followed by intentional poisoning and mental or behavioural disorders caused by using drugs.

    Men are considerably more likely than women to die in this way, accounting for 72 per cent of all drug-related deaths, while women make up just 28 per cent.

    The figures have been released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre as part of research exploring patterns in drugs misuse.

    Ian Hamilton, a lecturer in mental health at the University of York specialising in the study of problematic drug and alcohol use, told The Independent that the rise may be due to lessening support for addicts, incurred by public health funding cuts. He said: “In part the rise in deaths is likely to be the legacy of substantial disinvestment in drug treatment following the £200 million pound cuts to the Public Health budget.

    "This has resulted in de-professionalising the work force as providers compete with each other to provide the 'best value' services when tendering.”

    He added the gender divide may be due to differing social roles performed by men and women, including responsibilities for childcare: “The gender difference is interesting and has been a consistent feature in those accessing treatment as well as those unfortunately losing their lives. I suspect not having direct responsibility for children could be a factor, as for women this is both a protective factor against risky drug use and also services are more likely to respond to mothers in terms of their statutory duty to protect children.”

    The concerning figures fuel concerns that the government is fighting a losing battle in the war on drugs. In May of this year, controversial new legislation banning ‘legal highs’ came into force, amid concerns they could be as harmful as banned substances. The legislation was criticised for being too broad and unrealistic. However, the government has said it is necessary to protect people from serious addiction.

    It is estimated that one in 3 adults has taken an illicit drug at some point in their life, with 8.9 per cent having done so in the last year and 5.2 per cent having done so in the last month.

    By Siobhan Fenton - The Independent.uk/July 29, 2016
    Photo: Getty
    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. Alfa
    Mind that the UK has implemented a lot of bans and restrictions in the last 6 years. And logically more restrictive policy does not in any way protect people or lead to less danger. Drug use stays the same, drug dangers rise, non-violent sellers are exchanged for violent criminals and gangs.

    Revenue streams change from licit to illicit networks. Fuelling violence, crime and terror on many levels.

    But yeah, lets stay tough on drugs.
  2. Calliope
    It is worth noting the following facts in comparison for alcohol (which the UK reports separately from 'illicit drugs') from the National Statistics, Statistics on Alcohol, England, 2016 [NS] Publication date: June 30, 2016

    Hospital admissions – broad measure
    • In 2014/15 there were 1.1 million estimated admissions where an alcohol-related disease, injury or condition was the primary reason for admission or a secondary diagnosis. This is 3% more than 2013/14.
    • Men accounted for nearly two-thirds of the admissions.
    • Salford had the highest rate at 3,570 per 100,000 population. Wokingham had the lowest rate at 1,270.
    Hospital admissions – narrow measure
    • There were 333 thousand estimated admissions where an alcohol-related disease, injury or condition was the primary diagnosis or there was an alcohol-related external cause. This is similar to 2013/14 and 32% higher than 2004/05.
    • Blackpool had the highest rate at 1,220 per 100,000 population. Wokingham the lowest rate at 380.
    • In 2014, there were 6,831 deaths which were related to the consumption of alcohol. This is an increase of 4% on 2013 and an increase of 13% on 2004.

    • 196 thousand prescription items were dispensed in England in 2015, which is 1% higher than in 2014 and nearly double the level ten years ago.
    • The total Net Ingredient Cost (NIC) for items prescribed for alcohol dependence in 2015 was £3.93 million which is 15% higher than in 2014
    Drinking Prevalence
    • 28.9 million people in Great Britain report drinking alcohol in the previous week. This equates to 58% of the population.
    • In 2014, 38% of secondary school pupils had ever drunk alcohol, the lowest proportion since the survey began when it was 62%.
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