Illegal drugs cost 15 lives in Northumberland

Illegal drugs caused 15 deaths in Northumberland last year, according to new figures.

By Katie Williams,
Thursday, 15th October 2020, 3:53 pm
Illegal drugs cost 15 lives in Northumberland last year
Illegal drugs cost 15 lives in Northumberland last year

Office for National Statistics figures show 28 drug-related deaths in the area in 2019 – down from 42 the previous year – with 15 caused by the use of illegal substances.

The overall figure relates to poisoning from illegal and prescription and over-the-counter medicines, and includes deaths from overdoses, accidents, suicides, and associated health complications.

The new data brings the death toll from drugs in Northumberland to 96 between 2017 and 2019 – a rate of 11.2 per 100,000 people – up from 10.6 in 2016-18.

Drug reform charity Release said Government inaction is partly to blame for the record number of deaths seen nationally – where 4,393 deaths from drug poisoning were recorded in 2019 – two-thirds of these from illegal substances.

The ONS said new analysis shows rates of drug poisoning deaths have been higher in the most deprived areas, particularly among those in their 40s.

Niamh Eastwood, Release's executive director, said two Government committees have called for drug policy reform – including investment in treatment, overdose prevention sites and a review of the law to end criminal sanctions for possession offences.

She added: "If the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister continue to ignore these calls, they will be responsible for the deaths of thousands of people every year.

A Government spokeswoman said: “Our approach on drugs remains clear – we must prevent drug use in our communities, support people through treatment and recovery, and tackle the supply of illegal drugs.”