The number of deaths caused by heroin use has sharply risen by 107% since 2012, while deaths from drug use in general is at its highest level on record, according to new report produced by Public Health England and the Local Government Association.
The number of deaths linked to the drug rose from 579 in 2012 to 1,201in 205, the highest number on record. The total number of deaths linked to all illegal drugs has also risen to 2300, also the highest number since records began. This represents an increase of 8.5% in 2015, following an increase of 17% in 2014 and 21% in 2013. Despite this, overall drug use in England has fallen.
‘Drug use is the fourth most common cause of death for those aged 15 to 49 in England and we know that the majority of those dying from opiates have either never, or not recently, been in treatment,’ said Rosanna O’Connor, Director of drugs, alcohol and tobacco at PHE. ‘Reassuringly, overall drug use has declined and treatment services have helped many people to recover but there is a need for an enhanced effort to ensure the most vulnerable can access treatment.’
The report states that a coordinated approach between NHS and local government organisations should be adopted to address health inequalities and meet complex needs, with better access to physical and mental healthcare, and to other support which could include housing and employment.
‘There is considerable variation across the country, with some regions showing large increases in recent years. PHE will continue to support local authorities in delivering tailored, effective services where people stand the best chance of recovery,’ added Ms O’Connor.