'Get help' call as South Tyne drug deaths rise

The number of people who died while undergoing treatment for drug addiction in South Tyneside has risen, new figures show.

Drug deaths increase
Drug deaths increase

Figures from the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities show 31 people died while in drug treatment in the area between April 2018 and March 2021 -

up from 22 between April 2017 and March 2020.

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Between April 2016 and March 2019, there were 20 deaths in the area.

In England, 6,940 people died while in drug treatment in 2018-21 – up from 6,164, and 5,889 over the previous two three-year periods.

Drug reform charity Release warned that drug-related death rates are higher among those not in contact with treatment services.

Dr. Laura Garius, policy lead for the charity, said: "We do not know whether these deaths were actually substance-related, how they vary by the type of intervention, and what role the coronavirus pandemic may have played.

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"What we do know is that death rates are higher among people who are not in contact with drug treatment services."

Dr Emily Finch, vice-chair of the addictions faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: “Each of these deaths is a tragedy and a stark reminder of just how destructive and damaging addiction can be.

“It’s vital that anyone struggling with their alcohol or drug use seeks help.”

The Department of Health and Social Care said its recently announced drugs strategy will tackle the root causes of substance misuse, including £780m for treatment and recovery.

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A DHSC spokesman said: “Like other services, drug and alcohol treatment services were affected by the pandemic, but most have returned to as close to business-as-usual as they can.”