Read the UK’s Office of National Statistic’s latest report of deaths due to drugs (ONS). It reports 3,744 drug poisoning deaths involving both legal and illegal drugs in England and Wales registered in 2016, being 70 higher than 2015 (an increase of 2%) and the highest number since comparable statistics began in 1993. Significantly, ONS highlights that 69% (2,593) were drug misuse deaths and there has been an increase in the rate of deaths related to drug misuse in Wales from 58.3 deaths per 1 million population in 2015 to 66.9 per 1 million in 2016. Alarmingly, people aged 40 to 49 years had the highest rate of drug misuse deaths in 2016, overtaking those aged 30 to 39 years and over half (54%) of all deaths related to drug poisoning in 2016 involved an opiate (mainly heroin and/or morphine). Finally, ONS warns that the highest mortality rate from drug misuse was in the North East with 77.4 deaths per 1 million population, a 13% increase from 2015.
Recently, this blog has been featuring the escalating opioid crisis, which risks rapidly turning from epidemic to pandemic in North American, where drugs are now the largest cause of death for the under fifties.
Unfortunately, the ONS statistics are historic and understate both the current and emerging problem. Drugs enforcement activities in the UK are failing and there’s a seriously inadequate public rehab capability, so the prognosis for UK addicts is dire.
It’s revealing that the highest number of deaths in 2016 is with people aged 40 to 49 years, presumably reflecting failed lives economically, socially and psychologically? The highest regional concentration of deaths in the North East is another highly significant statistic. It’s hard to speculate why the North East should be so exceptional. We know that the North East has a disproportionate number of public sectors jobs and these have been hit hard by austerity. Perhaps, there’s a connection to the binge drinking which is also popular in the North East?