Methadone-related deaths soar

 

The number of methadone-related deaths of men in England and Wales rose by more than a third last year to its highest rate since 1997, figures showed today.

The 15-year high comes after studies found an increase in the drug's use by primary heroin users, possibly as a result of the heroin drought, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

The number of women's deaths linked to any drug also rose, up 3% from 857 to 880 in 2011, while the number of women's deaths linked to illegal drugs also rose 3% from 402 in 2010 to 413 last year.

For men, a third of all drug deaths in 2011 were suicides, a 20% increase from 482 the previous year to 576 - the highest number since 2005, the ONS figures showed.

For women, just under half of all drug deaths were suicides, up 7% from 391 in 2010 to 418 deaths last year.

Overall, the number of drug-related men's deaths - involving both legal and illegal drugs, prescription drugs and over-the-counter medicines - fell 6% to 1,772.

The number of men's deaths related to illegal drugs fell by 14% from 1,382 in 2010 to 1,192 last year.

But the mortality rate from illegal drugs was still significantly higher in men (43.4 deaths per million of the population) than in women (14.4).

Some 486 deaths were linked to the heroin-substitute methadone, taking the mortality rate for men from the drug from 9.9 deaths per million of the population in 2010 to 13.5 - a 36% rise and the highest rate since 1997.

The mortality rate for women from methadone was also up slightly to 4.3 deaths per million of the population.

"The increase in deaths involving methadone correlates with findings from the British Crime Survey showing the proportion of 16- to 59-year-olds using methadone in the last year increased significantly in 2010/11," the ONS said.

"In addition, the latest Druglink Street Drug Trends Survey found there had been an increase in the use of methadone (and other substances) by primary heroin users, possibly as a result of the heroin drought."

Heroin shortages in the UK began in 2010 due to a combination of severe flooding in Pakistan, exaggerated perceptions of a "poppy blight" in Afghanistan, and the actions of international and domestic law enforcement bodies.

Drug deaths linked to heroin and morphine were down, falling 25% last year, but they were still the substances most commonly involved in drug poisoning deaths with 596 last year.

Overall, drug-related deaths accounted for nearly one in eight deaths among people in their 20s and 30s in 2011, the ONS said.

Public Health Minister Anne Milton said: "Any death related to misuse of drugs is a tragedy for the victim, their families and their friends.

"Our drugs strategy aims to get people off drugs and stay off drugs.

"From next year, local authorities will be given a ring-fenced public health budget to tackle local public health issues. This will offer real opportunities to integrate drug treatment and other local services."

PA

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

    £18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

    Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

    £40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

    £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

    Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

    £20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

    Day In a Page

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
    Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

    'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

    Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
    Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

    BBC heads to the Californian coast

    The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
    Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

    Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

    Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
    Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

    Car hacking scandal

    Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
    10 best placemats

    Take your seat: 10 best placemats

    Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
    Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
    Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

    Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

    Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
    Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

    Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

    The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
    Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

    Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

    His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

    Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future