Northumberland bucks the national trend to record fewer drug-related deaths

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There were fewer drug-related deaths in Northumberland last year, new figures show.

It comes as drug deaths in England and Wales hit a record high, with health and social care provider Turning Point calling for further investment in addiction services.

Office for National Statistic figures show there were 28 drug poisoning deaths in Northumberland in 2022 – down from 37 the year before.

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The figures cover drug abuse and dependence, fatal accidents, suicides and complications involving controlled and non-controlled drugs, prescription and over-the-counter medications.

Drug-related deaths in Northumberland have fallen.Drug-related deaths in Northumberland have fallen.
Drug-related deaths in Northumberland have fallen.

Across England and Wales, there were 4,907 drug-related deaths in 2022 – the highest level since records began in 1993.

Clare Taylor, chief operating officer at Turning Point, said the high level of deaths is a tragedy.

She added: "Drug related deaths are preventable, and the right treatment and support for anyone at risk, in any community, remains the key protective factor."

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She said government investment has allowed the addiction sector to increase treatment places and grow the workforce, but added it will take time before world class drug and alcohol treatment services are built.

"If the Government continues to invest in building up skills and capacity in the sector, we can turn the tide," she added.

Of the total drug-related deaths last year, 3,127 deaths were due to misuse, meaning they involved illegal drugs, or were a result of drug abuse or dependence.

In Northumberland, eight of the deaths were identified as drug misuse.

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Some 2,261 (46%) deaths last year involved an opiate, such as heroin or morphine, while 857 deaths involved cocaine, with the number rising for the 11th consecutive year.

Lee Fernandes, from the UK Addiction Treatment Group, said the figures show people who have been addicted to drugs for many years are now also experimenting with taking other substances which can make a user "increasingly susceptible to a fatal overdose".

He said such deaths are "unnecessary" and could be prevented with the right kind of help, empathy and professional support.

The ONS figures also show the age standardised mortality rate – which accounts for age and population size – stood at 11.5 drug-related deaths per 100,000 people in Northumberland between 2020 and 2022.

It was above the overall rate for England, of 8.1 deaths per 100,000 people.