Hospital admissions in Hartlepool for patients with drug-related mental health issues are the highest in England and almost doubled in the last four years.
There were 465 admissions for mental illnesses or behaviour disorders where the main cause or a contributing factor was drugs between April 2017 and March 2018, the highest rate of admissions in England.
According to the latest NHS England figures, that is a rise of 93% from four years ago, when these records began.
Lucy Schonegevel, from Rethink Mental Illness, said: “This is yet another piece of evidence in an ever-growing list showing the pressure that NHS services are facing in treating people with mental ill-health.
“The reasons behind this increase will be numerous and complex. We hear from our supporters about the difficulties that they face accessing services when they have a combination of mental health and drug issues.
“Services for people with mental illness, and services for people with substance misuse problems, are funded and provided by completely different organisations. Sadly, this can mean that people often fall through gaps in the system.”
Of Hartlepool’s 465 admissions, 330 were men and 135 were women.
Drugs tended to be a contributing factor for mental health issues, rather than the main cause.
There were 30 cases where they were diagnosed as the primary reason for behaviour disorders.
These figures only indicate the number of admissions, not patients. They could include one patient who has been to hospital several times over the year.
Across England, there was a 27% rise in drug related admissions over the last four years.
Steve Moffatt, of the public health charity Addaction, which operates services in Hartlepool, said the increase could be due to improved recording practices in hospitals and “a greater willingness among people in general to admit to a history of substance use”.
“These are both positive developments and we encourage anything that helps people be open and honest without fear of judgement,” he said.
“It’s essential that people feel able to disclose a substance issue and ask for help.”
The rate of drug-related mental health admissions in Hartlepool is 548 per 100,000 people, higher than the North East’s average, of 233 per 100,000.
Mr Moffat commented: “The statistics show a significant north versus south divide. In both the North East and North West, hospital admissions in this category are 50% higher than the national rate.”
The figures also show the number of admissions for patients who have overdosed on illegal drugs, such as ecstasy or heroin. Hartlepool has one of the highest drug poisoning rates in England.
From April 2017 to March 2018 there were 60 admissions, a rise of nine cases, on the previous year.
Compared with four years ago there has been a 50% increase in hospital admissions for illegal drugs overdoses.
Hartlepool Borough Council says it is dedicated to tackling drugs and substance misuse across the town and working alongside a wide range of support agencies and health providers, the partnership continues to prevent the supply and availability of drugs, direct drug mis-users towards treatment services, and to work strategically in-line with the national Government agenda.