Drug Addiction & Dying

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4,561 deaths related to drug poisoning were registered in England and Wales in 2020, the highest number since records began in 1993. This is a 3.8% increase on the statistics from 2019, when there were 4,393 registered deaths related to drug poisoning.

More than two thirds of registered drug poisonings are attributed to males – 3,108 male deaths compared to 1,453 female deaths in 2020.

The highest rate of drug misuse deaths was found in those born between 1970 and 1979 (Generation X). Those aged 45-49 have the highest death rate, with those aged 40-44 having the second highest. This generation has consistently had the highest rates of drug misuse deaths for the past 25 years.

 

In 2020, 2,263 registered drug poisoning deaths involved opiates – a 4.8% increase on 2019 (2,160 deaths) and 48.2% higher than in 2010 (1,527 deaths). Opiates were involved in 49.6% of drug poisonings in 2020, but this figure increases to 64.5% the deaths that had no drug type recorded on the death certificate are excluded.

The number of Cocaine deaths has risen for the ninth year in a row. There were 777 deaths involving cocaine registered in 2020, which was 9.7% higher than the previous year (708 deaths). Males accounted for 79.7% of the deaths involving cocaine (619 males compared to 158 females). [1]

The age of people in treatments has continued the trend from previous years showing an increase in older age groups. More than half of the people in treatment were over 40 years old (55%), with less than 10% of people in treatment for opiates or alcohol under 30 (8% for opiates and 9% for alcohol only). [2]

Deaths related to drug poisoning in England and Wales: 2020 registrations

Adult substance misuse treatment statistics 2019 to 2020: report

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