Drug-related deaths are on the rise in England and Wales, according to official statistics. Fatalities involving heroin and cocaine are the highest since comparable records started in 1993.
In 2015, Wales reported 49 percent increase in mortality rate for deaths related to drug misuse, up from 39.0 in 2014 to 58.3 deaths per million population.
‘Heroin and cocaine were the drugs responsible for the most deaths. The number of deaths connected to “legal highs”, officially known as new psychoactive substances, rose from 92 in 2014 to 114 in 2015.’
The reason behind the rise in drug-related mortality rates is increasing the purity of substances. A total of 3,674 drug poisoning deaths involving both legal and illegal substances were registered in 2015. Of these deaths, 2,479, or two-thirds, involved illegal drugs only.
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the mortality rate from drug misuse was the highest ever recorded, at 43.8 deaths per million population. Since 2012, deaths involving heroin and morphine have more than doubled.
"Age is also a factor in the record levels of drug deaths, as heroin users are getting older and they often have other conditions, such as lung disease and hepatitis, that make them particularly vulnerable."
There were 320 deaths involving cocaine, up from 247 in the previous year. Drug-related deaths have increased for four years in a row, with the majority of cocaine-linked fatalities occurring in men aged 30 to 49.
Deaths due to new psychoactive substances formerly known as "legal highs" have increased sharply over the last five years, with 114 registered last year.
Deaths involving heroin and morphine doubled in three years to 1,201 in 2015. Men were three times more likely than women to die from drug misuse. People between the ages of 30 and 39 had the highest mortality rate from drug misuse, followed by those aged 40 to 49. Death from drug misuse was lower in England than in Wales.