Revealed: 2020 number of drug-related deaths in Wrexham and Flintshire

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WREXHAM had a record number of drug-related deaths in the past year, figures show.

Charity Change Grow Live said society needs to recognize drug addiction is a chronic health condition in order for things to improve after numbers in 2020 showed hundreds of drug deaths across Wales.

The Office for National Statistics figures show that Wrexham recorded 17 drug-related deaths in 2020.

This was an increase from 15 the previous year and the highest since records began in 1993.

The deaths are related to poisoning from a variety of illegal and legal drugs, including prescription and over-the-counter drugs.

The numbers include deaths from substance abuse, but also deaths from accidents, suicides, and health complications from drug use.

In Wrexham, twelve deaths were attributable to abuse, that is, illicit drugs, or from substance abuse or addiction – also a record number.

There were eight drug-related deaths in Flintshire in 2020, up from 13 the previous year.

In Flintshire, five deaths were attributable to abuse, that is, illicit drugs, or drug abuse or addiction, in the past year.

Across England and Wales, there were 4,561 deaths from drug poisoning in 2020 – two-thirds of them from abuse.

While this represents the highest total for the two nations since records began in 1993, the number of drug-related deaths in Wales alone fell to its lowest level since 2014.

The ONS said about half of the deaths last year will have occurred due to delays in registering deaths, the majority prior to the pandemic.

Eytan Alexander, a recovering addict and executive director of the UK Addiction Treatment Group, said the death toll across England and Wales was “sad but not surprising”.

He said, “We are living in a parallel pandemic; a drug, alcohol, and mental health pandemic that has only gotten worse because of the virus.

“Now is enough, we need to come together as a society and take real action to help vulnerable people before more people lose their lives.”

The ONS figures show that the age-standardized death rate – which takes age and population size into account – was 9.0 per 100,000 people across Wales between 2018-20, compared to 9.4 between 2017-19.

In Wrexham, that rate has been significantly higher at 11 per 100,000 over the past three years.

This was also one of the highest rates in the country, but far behind Anglesey (17.7 deaths per 100,000 people).

At Wrexham, the number was higher for men (15.1) than for women (6.5).

In Flintshire this rate has been slightly lower at 8.2 per 100,000 over the last three year period.

In Flintshire, the number was higher for men (11.3) than for women (5.3).

The number of drug-related deaths in the most deprived areas of Wales was around six times higher than in the least deprived areas.

Mark Moody, director of the charity Change Grow Live, added, “In order for things to improve, we need to tackle the stigma of people who use drugs directly.

“This starts with realizing that drug addiction is a chronic health condition that needs to be built in alongside NHS services, law enforcement, and housing support.”

Of the deaths registered in England and Wales last year, 777 were cocaine – an increase of 9.7% from 2019 and more than five times the number of 144 deaths registered in 2010.

The Welsh government said any loss of life was a tragedy but it was “encouraging” to see drug deaths fall in Wales.

Deputy Secretary of State for Mental Health and Wellbeing Lynne Neagle said: “The past year has been incredibly difficult for many and that is why we have more than $ 60 million in funding.

“Treatment, including medication, was delivered to people in need of protection, and support was given to those most at risk, including the homeless.”

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