Drug-related deaths in England and Wales remain at record high

Drug-related deaths in England and Wales remain at a record level, with official figures showing 2019 had the highest number since records began more than a quarter of a century ago.

There were 4,393 deaths related to drug poisoning registered last year, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

This is a small rise from the 4,359 drug-related deaths registered in 2018 – the highest figure since records began in 1993.

Two-thirds of the deaths were related to drug misuse, the ONS said.

The data shows that the drugs-related death rate of men was twice as high as that of women, with 104.7 deaths registered per million men, compared to 49.1 deaths per million women.

More than half the deaths involved opiates, while deaths involving cocaine increased for the eighth year in a row, by 7.7% for male deaths and by 26.5% for female deaths.

The data covers deaths registered in 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic took hold.

Ben Humberstone, deputy director of health analysis and life events at the ONS, said: “The number of deaths due to drug poisoning registered in 2019 remains at a similar level to 2018.

“Almost half of all drug related deaths involved opiates such as heroin and morphine.

“However, cocaine deaths rose for the eighth consecutive year to their highest level.”