Picture of drugs in a bag

Some are calling it an epidemic. Others are proclaiming a national health emergency. This is after the recent release of figures showing the number of drug deaths in England and Wales, which is a cause for alarm. Drug deaths have increased by more than one in ten, with many now questioning what can be done about it.

Fatalities from drug poisoning in England and Wales rose by 16% last year. Marking the highest annual growth since records began in 1993.

According to the information gathered, the most at risk are the 30 to 50-year-old age bracket. This is the age group which had the highest ratio of fatalities, where a whole generation of men and women in their prime are losing their lives to drug abuse.

The ONS, or Office for National Statistics, states there were almost four and a half thousand deaths attributed to drug poisoning in England and Wales in 2018. More than 50% of drug fatalities, amounting to more than two thousand, were related to opiates like heroin, while over 630 drug deaths were linked to cocaine.

Following on from the news Scotland has also tragically announced a record-breaking ratio of drug deaths, only emphasising how addiction levels have reached crisis point across the UK.

The findings have shone a light on the widespread problem of drug abuse, but, at the same time, they have also inspired anger, with many people blaming the rise of drug death squarely on the government.

Many have attributed the increase in drug deaths at what they deem detrimental funding cuts to treatment services including drug detox and rehab. Some noted experts have gone so far as to say the cuts are dangerous and could be putting people in danger by reducing financial support to crucial drug treatment.

Addiction and Drug Deaths Chart UK
Chart: The number of drug deaths in the UK has more than doubled in just 25 years.

As has been wide-spread reported, financial cuts by central government have had a domino effect, where local councils have been forced to cut funding for drug rehab treatment care by over a quarter from three years ago, while they have been reduced by over half in other territories.

This can have a devastating impact on those battling drug addiction. Many experts in the field of psychiatry and health care hope the results of this survey will cause the government to re-evaluate their position, by bringing home how cutting funding for drug services affects people’s lives.

The number of drug-related deaths in Scotland grew by more than 25% in the last 12 months. Leading to the Scottish government demanding greater powers to be given to the devolved parliament at Holyrood. They believe this will put it in a position to introduce steps to decrease drug death levels.

However, various critics, including leading figures in the field of drug treatment, still feel UK policymakers are not doing enough for local communities, possibly even preventing measures which could reduce fatalities.

All in all, could it boil down to a lack of funding and support for addiction services, stopping people getting the help they need? Could this be the answer to escalating numbers of drug-related deaths in England, Wales and Scotland?

We think so. More funding is desperately needed for primary treatment of addiction and lets hope it arrives soon.

Sources:

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/aug/15/drug-poisoning-deaths-in-england-and-wales-at-highest-level-ever-recorded

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