Cocaine deaths in Wales highest on record

Leslie Hanson
August 9, 2018

The latest data showed the North East of England had a significantly higher rate of drug deaths than other regions - 83 per million people - followed by the North West of England and Wales.

The rate in the capital dropped from 32.3 deaths per one million people in 2016 to 24.6 in 2017.

And now, under a Conservative government, drug-related deaths have reached a record high, according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Users of the recreational drug have also warned it is easier to get than takeaway pizza.

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.

Both those years had also exceeded the rolling five-year average - with the seven-week period in 2017 recording 2,332 deaths above the five-year average at the time.

Fentanyl, originally developed in Belgium in the 1950s to aid cancer patients with their pain, is also partly behind a growing opioid crisis in the US.

One type of fentanyl, carfentanyl, is 10,000 times stronger and is used as an elephant tranquilliser.

The most unsafe version of the opioid, known as carfentanyl, was behind 27 accidental fatalities during the year - the first time it has been recorded in death certificates.

Previous year heroin and morphine related deaths decreased for the first time since 2012, while cocaine deaths rose. In 2016, the government introduced a blanket ban on the importation, production or supply of most NPS.

Deaths from psychoactive substances like spice or mephedrone halved.

Ellie Osborn, a health analysis statistician at the ONS, said: "The figures published today show that the level of drug poisoning deaths in 2017 remained stable".

'However, despite deaths from most opiates declining or remaining steady, deaths from fentanyl continued to rise, as did cocaine deaths'.

Most were from drug misuse, which accounted for 67% of the total number of drug poisoning deaths.

"In recent years we have seen a 30% cut in the budget for addiction services".

But Mr Hamilton argued it is 'middle-aged people using heroin and diazepam that make up the majority of these deaths, .'.

Niamh Eastwood, executive director of drug policy reform group Release, says the government's position on DCRs also makes it hard to tackle the problem of drug-related deaths.

He accused politicians of blocking, or refusing to fund, measures proven to save lives in other countries.

Karen Tyrell, executive director of alcohol and drug charity Addaction, said: 'The truth is that most drug-related deaths are preventable.

"The Government must fully fund drug treatment, stop criminalising people who use drugs, and allow supervised drug consumption rooms now".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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