Fentanyl and cocaine-related deaths on the rise

Henrietta Strickland
August 7, 2018

DRUG-related deaths have risen in Taunton Deane over the last three years, reflecting a national rise in fatalities over the period.

A new report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found there were 432 deaths relating to use of the Class A drug in 2017, almost quadruple the number in 2011 when rates began to rise again following a brief decrease.

Deaths linked to the drug have risen from 139 to 432 since 2012, with experts saying that people from all levels of society are being destroyed by the substance.

Last week Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, said "hypocritical" middle-class users were behind the trend which is partly driving the increase in gangland killings.

The increase in cocaine deaths for the sixth successive year in England and Wales comes amid rising production of the drug and higher purity across Europe.

Following a series of deaths in northern England in April 2017, Public Health England warned heroin users to test drugs before using so as to not mistake heroin for fentanyl. It was first seen mentioned in death certificates in 2017 and accounted for 27 deaths, 87% of the 31 deaths related to types of fentanyl in 2017.

Rates of drug misuse deaths in England were highest in the north.

The number of cocaine deaths rose from 371 in 2016 to 432 previous year - but it is unsure whether these were down to the powder or crack. The north-east had the highest rate of drugs deaths, with 83.2 deaths per 1 million people.

ONS health analysis statistician Ellie Osborn said: "The figures published (on Monday) show that the level of drug poisoning deaths in 2017 remained stable".

Internationally, there are many instances of successful drug policy reform reducing drug deaths that the United Kingdom government could learn from.

'Unfortunately, these people are dying in their forties and fifties, decades before the average person.

Martin Powell, from Transform Drug Policy Foundation, accused politicians of not funding measures proven to save lives across the world.

Consultant addiction psychiatrist Dr Emily Finch told the Today programme there's been around a 30% loss in funding for drug and alcohol treatment services in the last 5-10 years.

'These deaths are largely preventable but would require investment in drug treatment.

"People who use opioids (like heroin) often have cumulative physical and mental health problems".

"Nobody wakes up in the morning and decides to become dependent on drugs".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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