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Expert Reaction: New ONS data on drug deaths

Posted on 6 August 2018

Mental health lecturer Ian Hamilton comments on the latest figures revealing the number of drug-related deaths in England and Wales.

Ian Hamilton, from the Department of Health Sciences, said: "More than 2,500 people died as a result of drug use in England and Wales last year according to new data from the Office for National Statistics. The ONS suggest this is likely to be an underestimate of the true number who died, as not all drug-related deaths are being reported to the ONS by coroners.

"Despite recommendations on strategies to reduce the number of drug-related deaths being put forward to the government in the Reducing Opioid-Related Deaths in the UK report, funding cuts were made to specialist drug treatment.


"Being in treatment is known to protect people who use drugs from harm. There is a clear economic case, in addition to a humane one, for investing in drug treatment, as previous research by the University of York shows that there is a return of at least £10 for every pound invested in this way.

"There is an urgent need for the Government to reverse the record numbers dying due to drugs; drug consumption rooms are an evidence-based way of achieving this but Theresa May has recently ruled out such an initiative.”

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