DrugScope responds to the release of ONS data on drug-related deaths
29 August 2012
DrugScope, the national membership organisation for the drug sector, today responded to the release of data from the Office for National Statistics on drug poisoning, including deaths related to drug misuse, in 2011.
The report’s key findings included:
- the number of male drug misuse deaths decreased by 14 per cent from 1,382 in 2010 to 1,192 in 2011; female deaths increased by 3 per cent from 402 in 2010 to 413 in 2011;
- deaths involving heroin/morphine decreased by 25 per cent compared with 2010, but they were still the substances most commonly involved in drug poisoning deaths (596 deaths in 2011);
- in 2011 there were 486 deaths involving methadone, a 36 per cent increase since 2010;
- the highest mortality rate from drug misuse was in 30 to 39-year-olds.
Martin Barnes, Chief Executive of DrugScope, said today:
"The increase in deaths attributed to methadone is concerning. It may partly be due to the effects of the heroin drought which started to affect the UK in 2010. DrugScope’s Street Drug Trends Survey 2011 found that, as supplies of heroin dried up, dropped in purity or became more expensive, dependent users turned to other substances, including methadone and benzodiazepines bought on the street. This explanation would be consistent with the fall in the number of deaths attributed to heroin or morphine, as well as the gradual increase in deaths linked to benzodiazepines since 2007.
"Every drug-related death is a tragedy for the individual concerned, their family and friends. It’s crucial that the government continues to fund a range of treatment options to help people with drug problems, as there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to overcoming dependency."