Drink and Drugs News December 2016 - Page 9

More news and reports at www.drinkanddrugsnews.com ‘David was only in his late thirties when he died, an increasingly common age for people to suffer accidental overdose. He was of course more at risk because of his age and history, because he had fallen out of treatment, and because he had a history of non-lethal overdose in the past. His death almost certainly could have been avoided.’ than doubled in England and Wales between 2012 and 2015 (DDN, October, page 4). Prof David Nutt, speaking at the same conference, asked the question ‘Why are we collecting all these statistics if we aren’t doing anything about them?’ It is only by looking behind the statistics that we can have a chance of understanding what may be the causes and, more importantly, what solutions can be found. It is shocking that in many parts of the country, as in my city, drug-related death inquiry groups fell victim to the financial cuts in services, and often no longer meet at all. As a result, nobody has been investigating the deaths of people not actually engaged with treatment services at the time of their death. The latest analysis by PHE shows that more than half of people who die in this way have never been involved with drug treatment services, at least since NDTMS records began seven years ago, and more than 70 per cent were not engaged with treatment services at the time when they died (http://bit.ly/2c3k2H6). We need to learn from each of these tragedies and add to the frequently simple and usually not even expensive actions, which we already know from international evidence contribute to reducing future deaths. These include: low-threshold prescribing (and welcoming rapid re-engagement for those who drop out), supervised consumption facilities offering cups of tea, conversation and a safe hygienic place to inject for the most vulnerable who are not ready or able to come into treatment, and wide access to take-home naloxone wherever it might be used to save a life. David was only in his late thirties when he died, an increasingly common age for people to suffer accidental overdose. He was of course more at risk because of his age and history, because he had fallen out of treatment, and because he had a history of non-lethal overdose in the past. His death almost certainly could have been avoided. We have powerful examples of effective analysis and action, for example from the airline industry, the maternal deaths confidential inquir