Drug deaths across London highest since records began


Drug-related deaths in England and Wales have reached the highest number since records began back in 1993, the Office for National Statistics has today revealed.

And unfortunately, the ONS has also revealed that the same can be said for drug-related deaths across London.

Detailed analysis of ONS data by drug addiction treatment experts UKAT shows that across all of London, there has been a 16% rise in drug poisoning deaths in the last 6 years.

The ONS report reveals that between 2017-19, drug poisoning deaths across London reached a record high of 1,320, up from 1,239 between 2016-18 and up from just 1,132 in 2013-15.

More men than women are dying from drug poisoning. Men account for 70% (924) of all drug poisoning deaths in London between 2017-19, a proportion relatively unchanged since 2013-15, when 71% of drug poisoning deaths were also men.

Across the 14 boroughs of Inner London, there were 419 drug poisoning deaths between 2013-15. This rose to 460 in 2016-18 and then in today’s report it has been revealed that the drug mortality rate now stands at 490; 17% more than 6 years ago.

UKAT’s analysis shows particular spikes within Inner London; in Camden, drug deaths have risen from 33 to 52 in 6 years, a 57% rise, in Kensington & Chelsea, there’s been a rise from 16 to 23 deaths and in Southwark, deaths have rocketed from 34 to 52.

Across the remaining 19 boroughs of Outer London, UKAT’s analysis shows that there were 387 drug poisoning deaths between 201315, rising to 412 in 2016-18 and then up again to 434 in the most recent report, a 12% rise overall.

Particular spikes can be seen in Ealing, where the drug death count rose from 25 to 44 in just six years, Enfield’s death count rose from 11 to 21, Hillingdon’s rocketed from 19 to 32 in just six years, a 68% rise, Hounslow’s rose from 21 to 36 (71% rise) and Richmond upon Thames from 14 to 21 drug deaths.

Drug addiction experts at UKAT- who analysed todays ONS figures- urge councils across London to invest in drug and alcohol treatment services to avoid more loss of life;

Nuno Albuquerque, Group Treatment Lead at UKAT (www.ukat.co.uk), comments;

“These ONS figures are saddening but unsurprising. It is here in black and white, the situation is only getting worse for those most vulnerable in society. We urge councils across London to invest in effective drug and alcohol services in their 2021 budget to avoid even more loss of life.

“We must remember that these aren’t just numbers; they’re someone’s mother, father, child or friend who has lost their lives to drugs and we can’t stress enough the value of investing in the treatment of addiction.

“2020 has proven to be a difficult year for many. Some will undoubtedly turn to misusing drugs as a coping mechanism. Our fear is that these figures could tip off the scale in next year’s report unless Councils here take proactive, preventative action today in order to save lives tomorrow.”

Substances involved in the drug-poisoning deaths registered in the London report have not been revealed by the ONS, however, in its national report, also released today, UKAT has discovered that both legal and illegal drugs are accounted for in the drug death rates.

Collectively, UKAT’s analysis of the National ONS data shows that for the types of drugs that can be prescribed by GPs – Tramadol, Codeine, Dihydrocodeine, Antidepressants, Zopiclone, Benzodiazepines, Antipsychotics and even Paracetamol – the death count in 2019 stood at 1,805; 40% of all drug deaths registered last year (4,393). This is significantly higher than the collective number of deaths from the same drugs ten years ago, which stood at 1,360.

Their analysis also shows that the number of deaths from illegal drugs such as Cannabis in 2019 are the highest on record and that Cocaine deaths rose for the eighth consecutive year to their highest level- accounting for 16% of all deaths across England and Wales last year.

Help, support and a free 24/7 live chat support service for drug abuse can be found at www.ukat.co.uk/drugs/v58/