Number of drug-related deaths in Wakefield has soared

The number of drug related deaths in the city has soared.
The number of drug related deaths in the city has soared.

The number of drug-related deaths in Wakefield has soared to its highest rate this century.

A total of 93 people died because of substance abuse between 2015 and 2017, data from the Office of National Statistics revealed.

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It’s almost double the number who died from drugs in the district between 2011 and 2013.

Across the UK, 2017 saw the highest number of fatal overdoses  recorded in a single year.

Drugs charities have branded the situation a “national crisis” and a “preventable tragedy” and blamed it on the government’s approach to substance abuse.

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Karen Tyrell, executive director at Addaction, said: “These statistics are devastating. It’s such needless waste of life and a tragedy for so many families and loved ones.

“People who use opioids, like heroin, often have cumulative physical and mental health problems. Most of them have had very difficult, often traumatic lives and we’re letting them down if we don’t give them the best care that we can.

“Nobody wakes up in the morning and decides to become dependent on drugs. Everyone deserves help, and we know that every person can recover with the right support.”

Across the country, deaths from cocaine increased sharply again, having risen steadily since records began.

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A total of 432 people lost their lives to the Class A drug last year, compared to 11 in 1993.

Fatalities from opiates are also up, as are deaths from anti-psychotics, which are used to treat mental health problems.

There has been a long-term decline in fatalities from paracetemol. With death rates from the painkiller peaking during the late 1990s, they have now fallen from more than 600 a year to just over 200 a year.

The charity Release said the level of care drug users receive varies depending on where they live.

Executive director Niamh Eastwood said: “This is a national crisis, and it requires a coordinated, national public health response. Instead we are seeing a disconnected, localised approach that fails to protect vulnerable people, and an overarching national strategy that primarily harms people who already marginalised.

“The government has also slashed funding to essential treatment services, leaving thousands of people left at the mercy of a postcode lottery as to whether their local authorities will provide the support that they need.”

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In other parts of West Yorkshire, the picture was varied.

The number of fatal overdoses has remained broadly the same in Bradford and Calderdale since 2001, though there’s been a small rise in Kirklees.

In Leeds, there’s been a sudden and sharp increase, with more than 200 deaths between 2015 and 2017, compared to 108 between 2012 and 2014.