Drug deaths fall in Hartlepool despite national rise

Drug deaths are on the rise.
Drug deaths are on the rise.

The number of people who have died through drug poisoning has fallen in Hartlepool.

Figures released by the Office of National Statistics reveal that between 2012 and 2014, 13 people died in the town due to drug poisoning.

This was a reduction from the previous two years, when it stood at 17 for 2010 to 2012.

However, figures revealed the North East region had, for the second year running, the highest mortality rate from drug misuse.

There was also a rise in fatalities involving cocaine last year, while the number of deaths linked to antidepressants was at its highest level for 15 years.

Nationally, there were 517 deaths involving antidepressants in 2014, the highest number since 1999.

Statisticians said people aged between 40 and 69 accounted for the majority of the increase.

While deaths involving cocaine also increased to 247 from 169 the previous year - with research suggesting an increase in purity has been a factor in the trend.

The ONS report said: “The National Crime Agency suggests there has been a gradual increase in user-level cocaine purity over the last two years, and there were marked regional variations in the purity of crack cocaine.

“These two factors are likely to be contributing to the increase in deaths involving cocaine.”

Yasmin Batliwala, chair of drug charity WDP, said the figures demonstrate that “we are simply not doing enough to tackle drug misuse in this country”.

She added: “The lack of a current and targeted national drugs strategy is a blatant demonstration of this failure.”

Simon Antrobus, chief executive of substance misuse charity Addaction, said “These tragic figures paint a stark picture of the shifting landscape of drug misuse in England and Wales.

“Drug treatment services across the country have seen an increase in the number of people seeking help for opiates and/or crack cocaine and this is only likely to increase further as the effect of increased opiate availability and purity is felt.”