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

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
filmPoldark production team claims innocence of viewers' ab frenzy
Life and Style
Google marks the 81st anniversary of the Loch Ness Monster's most famous photograph
techIt's the 81st anniversary of THAT iconic photograph
News
Katie Hopkins makes a living out of courting controversy
people
News
General Election
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Administrator is requ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - Commercial Vehicles - OTE £40,000

£12000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion and growth of ...

Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - Sheffield - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer position with a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Leader - Plasma Processing

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Operations Leader is required to join a lea...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders