Drug-related deaths in Eastbourne double

Drug-related deaths in Eastbourne have more than doubled in recent years.

According to latest data from the Office for National Statistics, drug poisoning deaths across East Sussex are up by 60 per cent overall with what officials describe as “worrying spikes” seen in Eastbourne up from 17 to 35 fatalities.

The number of drug-related deaths in neighbouring Lewes increasing from 12 to 28, 11 up to 21 in Rother and a jump from 26 to 35 in Hastings.

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Deaths include those caused by prescription and illegal drugs.

The Office for National Statistics says in general that drugs-related deaths in England and Wales have reached the highest number since records began back in 1993.

Detailed analysis of ONS data by drug addiction treatment experts UKAT shows that across the south east, there has been a 12 per cent rise in drug poisoning deaths over six years.

The ONS report reveals that between 2017-19, drug poisoning deaths across the south east reached a record high of 1,598, up from 1,572 between 2016-18 and up from just 1,424 in 2013-15.

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The report states that more men than women are dying from drug poisoning. Men account for 65 per cent of all drug poisoning deaths in the south east between 2017-19, a proportion relatively unchanged since 2013-15, when 68 per cent of drug poisoning deaths were also men.

Drug addiction experts at UKAT – which analysed the ONS figures and operates three residential rehabs across the south east – are urging councils across the region to invest in drug and alcohol treatment services to avoid more loss of life;

The company’s Nuno Albuquerque said, “These ONS figures are saddening but not surprising. It is here in black and white, the situation is only getting worse for those most vulnerable in society. We urge councils across the south east to invest in effective drug and alcohol services in their 2021 budget to avoid even more loss of life.

“We must remember that these aren’t just numbers; they’re someone’s mother, father, child or friend who has lost their lives to drugs and we can’t stress enough the value of investing in the treatment of addiction.

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“2020 has proven to be a difficult year for many. Some will undoubtedly turn to misusing drugs as a coping mechanism. Our fear is that these figures could tip off the scale in next year’s report unless councils here take proactive, preventative action today in order to save lives tomorrow.”

Substances involved in the drug-poisoning deaths registered in the south east report have not been revealed by the ONS.

However, in its national report also released today, UKAT has discovered that both legal and illegal drugs are accounted for in the drug death rates.

Help, support and a free 24/7 live chat support service for drug abuse can be found at www.ukat.co.uk/drugs/v58/