DDN Magazine November 2020 | Page 4


Another record high for England and Wales drug deaths

There were 4,393

deaths related to drug poisoning registered in England and Wales last year , according to the Office for National Statistics ( ONS ), just up from 2018 ’ s record figure of 4,359 ( DDN , September 2019 , page 4 ). While men once again men accounted for around two thirds of the deaths , the rate of fatalities among women has now increased for ten years in a row . More than half of all poisonings involved an opiate .
Just under 2,900 of the deaths were as a result of drug misuse , representing a slight – but ‘ not statistically significant ’ – fall from last year . As in previous years , the highest rate of drug misuse deaths was in the North East , at 95 deaths per million people , compared to 33.6 deaths per million in the East of England . Rates of drug poisoning deaths have been consistently higher in the most deprived areas , particularly among people in their forties , while deaths involving cocaine have increased for eight years in a row . Poisonings involving
cocaine have risen by more than 26 per cent for women and 7 per cent for men since last year , while poisonings involving NPS and fentanyl have remained stable .
Drug-related poisoning rates have been on a ‘ steep upward trend ’ since 2012 , says ONS , in line with trajectories in Scotland and Northern Europe . The age at which most people died from drug misuse has also continued to increase over time , with 20 to 29-year-olds having the highest rates during the first decade of figures , 30 to 39-year-olds between 2003 and 2015 , and 40 to 49-yearolds-since then . Change Grow Live chief executive Mark Moody said that a ‘ critical tipping point ’ had now been reached . ‘ The drug-related crisis has been worsening for over a decade . At the heart of the trend is a perfect storm of factors – disinvestment , an ageing population of people using drugs , and increasingly complex health needs . Adding to these challenges , the global coronavirus pandemic has , and continues to , impact vulnerable people most .’ An ‘ evidence-based system ’ was the only
way out of the crisis , he stated . It was clear that cocaine use had increased ‘ exponentially ’ in the last decade , said We Are With You deputy CEO Laura Bunt , with many people remaining unaware of the potential harms . ‘ We need much better education early on in schools and throughout the population on how to use drugs in the safest way possible and what support is out there . These figures are stark , but with some simple changes they can be brought down . The evidence is clear on what works ; hopefully there is now the will to implement it .’
‘ The reality is that local alcohol and drug services are operating under immense pressure as our funding continues to decrease ,’ added executive director at Humankind , Karen Tyrell , while the dissolution of PHE made it ‘ feel like we have now come to a critical point ’. The sector needed to focus on keeping harm reduction services open , getting naloxone to as many people as possible , and being flexible in its approach to prescribed medication , she stressed .
' We are at a critical tipping point ... An evidencebased system is the only way out of the crisis .'
Deaths related to drug poisoning in England and Wales : 2019 registrations at https :// www . ons . gov . uk /

Cold weather payments ‘ fall short ’

LOCAL AUTHORITIES will receive £ 10m in cold weather payments to help keep rough sleepers safe over the winter , the government has announced , with an additional £ 2m earmarked for faith and community groups to provide emergency accommodation . Guidance produced in partnership with PHE , Homeless Link and Housing Justice will also be issued to the homelessness sector to support shelters to open more safely . ‘ As we approach winter , we are focusing on the best way to protect rough sleepers from the cold weather and coronavirus ,’ said communities secretary Robert Jenrick .
Crisis chief executive Jon Sparkes , however , stated that the money falls short ‘ of the bold action we need ’ to keep people safe . ‘ Back in March the government rightly decided that night shelters and hostels were not a safe environment for people during the pandemic . It ’ s completely unacceptable that this approach should now change as we go into winter when the threat remains the same . We must not force people to choose between freezing on the street or a shelter , when both needlessly put lives at risk .’ The government needed to provide local authorities with the money to ensure everyone forced to sleep rough has access to safe , selfcontained accommodation , he stressed . ‘ Anything but this is risking lives . We urgently need the government to see sense on this matter and keep winter night shelters closed .’
' Those forced to sleep rough must have access to safe , self-contained accommodation .'

Scots drug admissions up

THERE HAS BEEN A MORE-THAN-THREEFOLD INCREASE in drug-related hospital stays in Scotland since 1996 , according to the latest Public Health Scotland figures . The rate increased from 73 to 260 stays per 100,000 population between 1996-97 and 2018-19 , with drug-related acute hospital stays increasing from 51 to 219 per 100,000 – with a ‘ sharper increase ’ in recent years . Drug-related psychiatric hospital stays have also increased from 29 to 41 per 100,000 since 2014-15 , ‘ following a period of relative stability ’. The most common drug associated with stays was opioids followed by ‘ multiple / other drugs ,’ while the most common age range was 35-44 , with rates increasing ninefold among this group since 1996 . Drug-related hospital statistics at beta . isdscotland . org /