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All-time high in drug-related deaths in England and Wales

Thursday, August 15, 2019

New data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) covering England and Wales shows that deaths from drug poisonings in 2018 were at the highest rate since records began in 1993 and 16% higher than 2017. Last year there were 4,359 drug-related deaths in England and Wales, 51% of which involved an opiate.  

Kat Smithson, Director of Policy at NAT (National AIDS Trust), said: “The climbing rate of drug-related deaths in England and Wales constitutes a public health and humanitarian crisis which must be addressed urgently.

“Investment in public health is urgently needed or deaths will continue to rise. It is unacceptable that the Government continues to cut public health funding in the face of such acute unmet need.

“It is clear that harm reduction services must be scaled up and new, innovative approaches to tackling harmful drug use are urgently needed. This should include Drug Consumptions Rooms which are proven to reduce drug-related deaths without encouraging wider drug use.

“Drug-related deaths are one outcome from problematic drug use but behind this figure are people struggling to access the drug treatment and support they need. People who are at risk of severe harm.”


NAT have published an investigation into drug-related deaths in England, including how the worst affected local authorities are responding.

For more details or further comment, contact senior press officer Charlie Alderwick: 020 7814 6727

About NAT

NAT (National AIDS Trust) is the UK’s leading charity dedicated to transforming society’s response to HIV. We provide fresh thinking, expertise and practical resources. We champion the rights of people living with HIV and campaign for change.

Shaping attitudes. Challenging injustice. Changing lives.

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