Drug-Related Deaths in England and Wales

30.09.2013 15:44

Drug-related deaths only seem to be covered by the media when a celebrity or someone in the public eye has become a victim of these dangerous and addictive substances. We never seem to hear about the average Joe on the street whom might be a neighbor, friend or even a family member. This causes a lack of awareness on how lethal the effects of legal and illegal drugs can be. For instance, a staggering 1,706 male drug poisoning deaths (involving both legal and illegal drugs) were registered in 2012. The frightening, but also encouraging facet of this statistic is that it’s a 4% decrease since 2011.

However, in spite of this male decrease,  the female population is not following the same trend. Female drug poisoning deaths have instead increased every year since 2009, reaching 891 in 2012. This is a worrying trend, where heroin and morphine are the two most common culprits involved in such deaths. Perhaps even more worrying though is the impact of legal prescription drugs, where the number of deaths involving tramadol has continued to rise. In 2012, 175 deaths were reported – more than double the number seen in 2008.

What might come as a surprise is that mortality rates from drug misuse were significantly higher in Wales than in England in 2012, at 45.8 and 25.4 deaths per million of population respectively. In England alone, the North West had the highest mortality rate from drug misuse in 2012 (41.0 deaths per million of population). Even though a higher percentage of young people abuse drugs, the highest mortality rate from drug misuse was in 30 to 39-year-olds age bracket, at 97.8 and 28.9 deaths per million of population for males and females respectively in 2012.

It should be noted that such statistics whilst illuminating do not indicated how many people might actually be abusing drugs. Between 2011 and 2012, an estimated 8.9% of adults used an illegal drug and for young people aged between 16 and 24, the figure was 19.3%. Although this is the lowest level of drug use documented since the government statistics began 1996, it still highlights how substance misuse continues to have a negative effect on the health, wellbeing and quality of life of far too many people.

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