Drug deaths in Peterborough up 50 per cent over three year period

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The number of people dying from drugs in Peterborough has risen by 50 per cent over a three year period.

The number of drug-releated deaths has risen from 23 in 2011-13 to 34 in 2014-16, according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics.

Twenty-eight of the people who died were men and six were women.

Ed Morrow, drugs policy lead at the Royal Society for Public Health, said: “While the UK Government stubbornly refuses to make meaningful moves towards a more progressive, public health-based approach to drug policy, and while local authority treatment budgets continue to be cut, it should come as no surprise that drug deaths in England and Wales are continuing to rise.”

In England, 6,803 people - 4,964 men and 1,839 women- died because of drug misuse between 2014-16, almost 2,000 more across the whole country than when the budget for government-funded treatment was ringfenced.

In 2016 there was the highest number of drug-related deaths since records began in 1993.

Ian Hamilton, a lecturer in mental health at the University of York, and Harry Sumnall, a professor at Liverpool John Moores University, wrote in an article for theconversation.com: “It is difficult to know what impact austerity has had in shortening the lives of people who use drugs.

“But is it a coincidence that since the change in policy in 2010, which saw a move from trying to reduce the harm that drugs cause to one which promoted abstinence, more people have lost their lives?”

Eytan Alexander, founder of UK Addiction Treatment Centres, said; “We’re saddened to read the latest ONS report and to see the amount of people dying in Peterborough because of drugs is continuing to rise.

“Only recently, when the Government launched its 2017 Drug Strategy, did they make a point of saying that according to their own research treatment is effective.

“We would urge anyone dealing with drug dependency, or any addiction for that matter, to seek help before this crisis escalates even further.”

A Government spokesperson said: ”While drug misuse is lower than 10 years ago, we are absolutely committed to reducing it and the harm it causes.

“That’s why last month the Government released a comprehensive new drugs strategy, setting out a balanced approach which brings together police, health, community and global partners to tackle the illicit drug trade, protect the most vulnerable and help those with drug dependency to recover and turn their lives around.”