43 deaths linked to legal highs

 

More than 40 deaths were linked to a group of now-banned legal highs in 2010, eight times as many as the previous year, figures have shown.

The biggest increase related to meow meow, which rose from five deaths in 2009 to 29 the following year, the National Programme on Substance Abuse Deaths report showed.

Methcathinones, which include meow meow and have since been made class B drugs, "tightened their grip on the recreational drug scene in western Europe but especially the British Isles", the report said.

It went on: "The rapidity with which these new substances have emerged appears to be at an increasing rate.

"In the past, the market for new psychoactive substances to explore evolved steadily over much longer periods of time.

"It is now difficult to gauge with any certainty what will be the next 'big thing' that will capture the attention of the experimenter or regular recreational drug user."

Deaths from use of methcathinones - which include mephedrone, commonly known as meow meow - rose to 43 in 2010 from five the previous year, the figures based on information from coroners showed.

Controls on previous legal highs such as ketamine, piperazines, and so-called date-rape drugs GHB and GBL helped reduce their popularity, the report said.

Overall, drug-related deaths in the UK fell by almost 14% to 1,883 in 2010 from 2,182 the previous year.

Professor Hamid Ghodse, director of the International Centre for Drug Policy (ICDP) at St George's Hospital, London, which released the report, warned against complacency.

"There are indications that there is still a general upward trend in fatalities involving emerging drugs such as mephedrone and prescription drugs such as methadone," he said.

"This is a great concern and it is clear that much work is still required in improving access to effective treatment and rehabilitation services, and, most importantly, finding prevention strategies to stop people being at risk in the first place."

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: "Any death related to misuse of drugs is a tragedy for the victim, their families and their friends.

"So-called legal highs are not a safer alternative to illegal drugs. As with any substances, the risks increase if you combine them with alcohol or other drugs."

She went on: "Our drugs strategy aims to get people off drugs and stay off drugs and 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."

The number of drug-related deaths in England fell to 1,358 from 1,524 in 2009, while in Scotland the number of deaths fell to 365 from 479, and in Wales they were down to 81 from 102.

In Northern Ireland, the number of drug-related deaths rose to 72 from 65, the figure showed.

In the UK, around three-quarters of deaths were of men (1,386) and three in five were aged 25-44 (1,135).

The highest rate of drug-related deaths per 100,000 population aged 16 and over in 2010 was in Brighton and Hove (14.8), followed by Manchester (13.4), Blackpool and The Fylde (11.8), Fife (10.3), and Lothian and Borders (10).

PA

News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features playground gun massacre
News
Two giraffes pictured on Garsfontein Road, Centurion, South Africa.
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Travel
travel
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations should be regarded as an offensive act
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm, actor was just 68
News
people
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Hydraulic Power Pack Design Engineer

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: I recruit for contract mechanical design...

SQL DBA/ C# Developer - T-SQL, C#.Net

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Working with an exciting ...

SCO Supervisor Electrical

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client based in the Midlands is looki...

Ecommerce Executive

£20000 - £24000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Ecommerce Executive Working with an...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices