There have been almost 180 hospital admissions on Wearside from people suffering from illicit drug poisoning in the last three years, new figures show.
Statistics released by NHS Digital show there were 179 instances of patients in Sunderland seeking treatment after being poisoned by dangerous substances since 2014.
Medics dealt with a total of 51 cases of drug poisoning in 2015/16, although this was down from 61 the previous year.
Fifty seven people cases were recorded in 2013/14.
The number of admissions for patients seeking help for drug-related mental health problems in the city however has rocketed in the past year, up from 27 in 2014/15 to 68 in 2015/16.
City council bosses have said that drug misuse remains a “major local issue” which they are committed to tackling.
Sunderland City Council portfolio holder for public health, Coun John Kelly, said: “Drug and alcohol misuse remains a major national and local issue.
“Sunderland City Council works with a range of partners to prevent and address the problems caused by drugs and alcohol.
“We are all committed to an approach which supports those who misuse these substances to recover from dependence and minimise harm.
“We also aim to support their families and the wider community.
“The key advice remains – not to misuse drugs or drink too much.”
Nationally, there were rises in admissions across all age groups, including for patients aged 75 and over, which more than doubled in 10 years.
In 2015/16, there were 15,074 hospital admissions with a primary diagnosis of poisoning by illicit drugs in England.
The tally is 51% higher than the 10,012 recorded in 2005/06, and up by 6% on the previous year.
There were particularly sharp jumps in cases of people in older age categories.
From 2005/06 to 2015/16, admissions of 45 to 54-year-olds for illicit drug poisoning more than doubled from 973 to 2,312.
In the 55 to 64 bracket, the number jumped from 394 to 903.
There was a rise from 185 to 510 for 65 to 74-year-olds and from 279 to 575 for people aged 75 and over.
Despite these increases, almost two-thirds of patients were aged between 16 and 44 last year.
The figures, published by NHS Digital, show there were 831 admissions of children aged under 16 for illicit drug poisoning in 2015/16.
There has also been a rise in hospital admissions with a primary diagnosis of drug-related mental health and behavioural disorders.
The number stood at 8,621 last year, an increase of more than a tenth (11%) compared with a decade earlier.
Increases in drug-related hospital admissions and deaths are set against a backdrop of falling prevalence of illegal drug use.
Around one in 12 (8.4%) adults aged 16 to 59 in England and Wales had taken an illicit drug in the last year in 2015/16 - compared to 10.5% a decade earlier.