The number of people who have died through drug poisoning has risen in South Tyneside.
Figures released by the Office of National Statistics reveal between 2012 and 2014, 28 people died in the borough due to drug poisoning.
Our drugs strategy is about helping people get off drugs.Department for health
This was a rise of eight compared to the previous two years.
Figures also revealed the North East had the highest mortality rate from drug misuse for the second year running.
There was also a rise in fatalities involving cocaine last year, while the number of deaths linked to antidepressants was at its highest level for 15 years.
Nationally, there were 517 deaths involving antidepressants in 2014, the highest number since 1999.
Statisticians said people aged between 40 and 69 accounted for the majority of the increase.
While deaths involving cocaine also increased to 247 from 169 the previous year – a rise of 50%, with research suggesting an increase in purity has been a factor in the trend.
The ONS report said: “The National Crime Agency suggests there has been a gradual increase in user-level cocaine purity over the last two years, and there were marked regional variations in the purity of crack cocaine. These two factors are likely to be contributing to the increase in deaths involving cocaine.”
Simon Antrobus, chief executive of substance misuse charity Addaction, said “These tragic figures paint a stark picture of the shifting landscape of drug misuse in England and Wales.
“Drug treatment services across the country have seen an increase in the number of people seeking help for opiates and/or crack cocaine and this is only likely to increase further as the effect of increased opiate availability and purity is felt.”
The Department of Health said any death related to drugs is a “tragedy”, adding: “Our drugs strategy is about helping people get off drugs and stay off them for good, and we will continue to help local authorities give tailored treatment to users.”