Drug Deaths At Highest Level Since Records Began

15 August 2019, 10:48 | Updated: 15 August 2019, 10:52

A person simulating taking the drug heroin.
A person simulating taking the drug heroin. Picture: PA

There were 4,359 deaths from drug poisoning in England and Wales in 2018, a 16% rise on the year before.

New statistics show that cocaine-related deaths have reached their highest ever level, having doubled during the previous three years.

Men were in the majority for overall drug poisoning deaths (2,984) while women accounted for around a third (1,375).

The data also shows that the North East had a significantly higher rate of deaths relating to drug misuse than all other English regions, with London having the lowest rate.

Ben Humberstone, Deputy Director for Health Analysis and Life Events at the ONS, said previous increases had been linked to opiate use, such as heroine and morphine.

But last year's results, he said, were found to be related to a "wider variety of substances", including cocaine and new psychoactive substances known as legal highs.

More than half of drug deaths in 2018 were linked to opiate use, while deaths from legal highs had doubled to 125 in the space of a year.

Figures last month showed drug deaths in Scotland went up 27% in 2018.