Hartlepool drug deaths hit new record

Hartlepool saw a record number of drug-related deaths last year, new figures show.

By Patrick Jack
Friday, 6th August 2021, 3:47 pm
Updated Friday, 6th August 2021, 9:48 pm
Drug deaths increase
Drug deaths increase

Office for National Statistics figures show there were 32 drug-related deaths recorded in the area in 2020 – up from 16 the year before, and the highest figure since records began in 1993.

The deaths relate to poisoning from a variety of illegal and legal drugs, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines.

In Hartlepool, 19 deaths last year were down to misuse, meaning they involved illegal drugs, or were a result of drug abuse or dependence.

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The Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP) has called on the Government to “wake up” following years of cuts to addiction services, which it said have fuelled a record number of deaths across England and Wales – 4,561 in 2020 – with two-thirds of these from misuse.

Dr Emily Finch, vice-chair of the addictions faculty at the RCP, said: “Years of cuts have left addictions services ill-equipped to treat people and prevent these deaths from rising.

“The Government needs to wake up to the fact that cuts to services, disconnecting NHS mental health services from addiction services and shifting the focus away from harm reduction to abstinence-based recovery is destroying lives and fuelling the increase in drug-related deaths.”

The Government has said it will set up a new drugs unit to help end illegal drug-related illness and deaths.

A spokesman added: “We are already investing £148m to tackle the root causes of drug misuse, including £80m for treatment and recovery – the largest investment in the drug treatment system for 15 years.”