Experts have warned that the coronavirus pandemic is exacerbating a substance abuse crisis with national figures showing the most drug and alcohol related deaths in seven years.
The figures show that the coroner for Teesside and Hartlepool found that the deaths of 90 people – 29 women and 61 men – were related to drugs or alcohol during the course of 2020.
That is a rise from the 55 deaths which were recorded in 2019, according to Ministry of Justice data.
Dr Laura Garius, policy lead at drugs charity Release, said drug-related deaths had been rising at an unprecedented rate for years and more needed to be done to combat the problem.
She said: “The current drug death crisis represents a failure of UK drug policy to protect some of the most vulnerable people in society, as well as a failure to invest in harm reduction, and treatment, that we know can save lives.
“We know that people use drugs for a variety of reasons, including relieving feelings of boredom and stress, which have been heightened as a result of the pandemic.”
A Government spokesman said: "Throughout the last year providers have continued to support and treat people misusing drugs and alcohol and we are supporting local authorities with over £3.3 billion in 2021-2022 to spend on public health services.
He said the Government is also supporting efforts to establish or improve specialised Alcohol Care Teams in hospitals.