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Fentanyl-related deaths spike in England and Wales

Published on 07/08/18 at 08:52am

Deaths linked to the powerful opioid fentanyl have increased by 30% in England and Wales.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics have revealed that fatalities caused by the potent synthetic opioid increased by 30% from 58 deaths in 2016 to 75 deaths in 2017.

The narcotic drug, which can be 100 times more potent than heroin, has been known to cause accidental overdoses in users of heroin and other less powerful opioids who are unaware that the drugs they are taking have been mixed with fentanyl and other similar analogues.

Carfentanyl, an opioid drug which is 100 times more potent than fentanyl and 10,000 times more potent than morphine, accounted for 27 of the 31 deaths linked to fentanyl analogues in 2017.

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs linked the spike in drug deaths to “deepening socio-economic deprivation since the financial crisis of 2008.” Public Health England explained that “Social factors, including housing, employment and deprivation, are associated with substance misuse and these social factors moderate drug treatment outcomes.”

Figures also revealed that six of the 10 local authority districts in England and Wales with the highest rates of heroin and morphine related deaths are coastal holiday resorts, with the Lancashire town of Blackpool ranking highest in number of deaths per 100,000 people.

However rates of drug misuse deaths were highest in the North East of England in which there were 83.2 deaths per 1 million people. While the North West had a rate of 64.7 deaths per million and Yorkshire and the Humber had a rate of 54.5, London had the lowest death rate with just 24.6 people per million die drug related deaths in 2017.

Ellie Osborn a helath analysis statistician at the Office of National Statistics noted that “The figures published today show that the level of drug poisoning deaths in 2017 remained stable. However, despite deaths from most opiates declining or remaining steady, deaths from fentanyl continued to rise in 2017 as did cocaine deaths which increased for the sixth consecutive year.”

Louis Goss

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