Drugs cost 36 lives in Sunderland

Nearly 40 drug-related deaths were recorded in Sunderland last year, new figures show.

Drug deaths action call.
Drug deaths action call.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show 36 deaths related to drug poisoning were registered in the city during 2021 - the same as the previous year.

They were among 4,859 drug poisoning deaths registered across England and Wales last year – the ninth consecutive rise and the highest number since records began in 1993.

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The figures show that the mortality rate stood at 14.7 deaths per 100,000 people in Sunderland between 2019 and 2021 – well above the rate for England, of 7.9.

The figures cover drug abuse and dependence, fatal accidents, suicides and complications involving controlled and non-controlled drugs, prescription and over-the-counter medications.

The data shows 22 deaths in Sunderland were the result of illegal drugs.

Niamh Eastwood, executive director of Release, the national centre for drugs expertise, said: “It is an utter disgrace that we are again talking about record breaking drug deaths.

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"Drug deaths are a public health emergency across the UK. Government inaction is a political choice."

Dr David Bremner, medical director for the substance abuse group at charity Turning Point, called for the Government to continue to invest in “life-saving” health, housing and social care services.

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A Government spokesman said its drug strategy will help rebuild drug treatment services and tackle criminal supply chains.

He added: “This will help to prevent nearly 1,000 deaths, deliver over 54,500 new treatment places and support 24,000 more people into recovery from substance dependency.”