Male drugs deaths highest for half a decade
Nearly 2000 men died from drugs last year — more than at any time in the last five years.
According to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the vast majority of the 2460 deaths in 2007 related to drug poisoning were men - 1914 in total, up 7% on 2006 and the highest since 2002. Heroin and morphine accounted for most deaths — up 16% - but one of the sharpest rises was in deaths related to methadone — up 35%.
In its analysis of the 'substance misuse' figures, the BMJ noted that the long term upward trend in the number of deaths involving cocaine continued, reaching 196 deaths in 2007, the highest recorded number since 1993. In contrast, the numbers of deaths involving antidepressants, paracetamol, and aspirin were all at their lowest since records began.
Until 2003, men aged 20-29 had the highest rate of deaths related to substance misuse, but the pattern is changing. Since 2003 most deaths have been among men aged 30-39.
Harry Shapiro, director of communications for the drug information charity Drugscope, drew two conclusions from this. 'It look as if we have an ageing heroin population, but it also underlines the fact that just because somebody has been using heroin for a long time doesn't necessarily mean they are immunised against drug death.'
The drug treatment charity Addaction's spokeswoman, Clare McNeil, said, 'The fact that we are continuing to see an increase in drug related deaths year on year is very worrying.
'Typically what we find is that most people who die from a drug related overdose are polydrug users. We have seen an increase in speedballingâ€”the practice of combining crack cocaine and heroinâ€”and people are largely unaware of the risks of mixing drugs with other drugs and especially alcohol.'
Page created on September 9th, 2008
Page updated on January 16th, 2010