Drug-poisoning deaths reach record levels

07 November 2019

Deaths from drug poisoning have reached their highest ever levels in Wales, up by 78% over 10 years, according to a new report by Public Health Wales (PHW).

And drug misuse deaths – a subset of drug poisoning deaths – have increased by 52% over the last decade and by 12% in the last year alone, rising to 208 in 2018 – a rate of 72 deaths per million people.

Opioids, including heroin, were involved in over half of drug misuse deaths reported in 2018. There was also a rise in deaths involving cocaine, amphetamine and MDMA – especially among people in their 20s. There has been a more than fourfold increase in the number of deaths involving cocaine over the past five years.

Josie Smith, head of substance misuse at PHW, said: ‘Drug markets have changed and expanded over the last few years, both in terms of availability, and range of drugs, and this trend is set to continue.  One of the most distressing impacts of these changes is the rise in premature deaths.’

Image credit | iStock