Drug deaths reach record levels in Wales

The number of people dying from drug misuse has reached an all-time high in Wales, with a significant increase in levels since 2020.

While 149 deaths were recorded in 2020, this has gone up by 41% to 210 last year, the highest since records began in 1993, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Drug deaths across the country have seen overall rise, with 4,859 deaths related to drug poisoning recorded in 2021, the equivalent of 84.4 deaths per million people and a 6.2% increase since 2020.

But Wales saw a much sharper increase in drug deaths than England, which saw a smaller rise from 2,830 in 2020 to 2,846 in 2021.

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Jon Murray, Executive Director of Services at drug, alcohol and mental health charity With You says: ‘The number of drug-related deaths in England and Wales are deeply concerning. 4,859 people lost their lives last year. That’s more than 13 people every single day.

‘Behind each death are stories of people who have experienced extreme trauma and resilience, have been dealt a difficult hand and did their best to survive. Each one of these deaths is preventable and we know that with the right support, every person can recover.

‘It’s no surprise that drug-related deaths are highest in the most deprived areas of England and Wales. Too many people who need treatment and support aren’t accessing it, and too many people are unaware of the potential harms of their drug use.

‘We are absolutely committed as an organisation to doing everything we can to reduce these preventable deaths. We review every death regardless of the cause, and we use learnings from each and every one.

‘These figures are unacceptable. However, we believe that change is possible. The recent Government drugs strategy and investment are welcome, and with project ADDER starting to show benefits, we are starting to move in the right direction.’

The organisation said that trauma-informed, collaborative and integrated drug and alcohol services could help to prevent tragic consequences for drug users.

New treatments are being tested in the UK in an effort to help drug addicts recover, such as a medicine Buvidal which can stop intense withdrawal symptoms.

Photo by Hennie Stander


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