More die while being treated for drug addictions

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

Drug deaths increase.
Drug deaths increase.

Department of Health and Social Care figures show there were 28 deaths among people undergoing drug addiction treatment in the area between April 2019 and March 2022 – up from 20 who died during 2016 to 2019.

However, it was down from 31 deaths recorded between 2018 and 2021.

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The most recent estimates of opiate and crack cocaine use show there were thought to be 737 people using the drugs in South Tyneside in 2016-17 – the

equivalent of 7.8 users per 10,000 people in the area – below the national rate of 8.9 per 10,000.

Across England, 7,429 people died while in contact with treatment services in the three years to March 2022 – a 26% increase on the 5,889 deaths recorded in the previous three-year period.

Martin Powell, head of partnerships at the Transform Drug Policy Foundation, said the rise in deaths is likely due in part to Covid-19 preventing face to face treatment.

He added: "We should be very concerned that over a third of people are dropping out of treatment, and just 60% of people using heroin are in treatment at all.

"To save lives we must offer services that retain people in treatment, and appeal to those we aren't reaching – including heroin prescribing clinics, overdose prevention centres and crack pipe distribution."

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We are committed to tackling the root causes of substance misuse and have invested £95m to rebuild drug and alcohol misuse treatment centres and services.”