The Office for National Statistics has published data (principally for England and Wales) concerning deaths relating to drug poisoning – two thirds of which are attributed to drug misuse [Link].
Although the number of deaths for 2017 (3,756) is similar to levels seen in 2016, the marked increase in fentanyl deaths from 58 in 2016 to 75 in 2017 is disturbing (noting that fentanyl and its analogues have been found mixed with heroin “causing accidental overdose in users”). Other findings include:
- Males’ mortality rate decreased from 91.4 deaths per 1 million population in 2016 to 89.6 in 2017, while the female rate increased for the eighth consecutive year to 42.9 deaths per 1 million population; neither changes were significant.
- The North East had a significantly higher rate of deaths relating to drug-misuse than all other English regions; London had a significantly lower rate.
- Deaths involving cocaine continued to rise while deaths related to new psychoactive substances halved in 2017.
There is an evident need for investment (financial and skills) in prevention, rehabilitation and treatment (see, for example, the piece by Prof Alex Stevens in “The Conversation” [Link], and the Report of the ACMD “Commissioning impact on drug treatment” (see, in particular, the conclusions at para.3.10) [Link].
The case for at least piloting in the UK medically supervised drug consumption facilities has been made elsewhere in these pages (see, for example, Fortson and McCulloch, “Evidence and Issues Concerning Drug Consumption Rooms” [Link].