Fresh fears over ecstasy substitute PMA after rise in deaths
Significant increase in the number of deaths from 'legal highs'
More people are dying after taking amphetamines that at any time in the past five years, with a sharp rise in fatalities driven by the increased use of the ecstasy substitute PMA.
Public Health England raised the alarm over the club drug earlier this month, calling evidence of PMA deaths “very concerning”. New figures from the Office for National Statistics figures showed a rise in PMA-related deaths from just one in 2011 to 20 in 2012.
There was also a significant increase in the number of deaths from new psychoactive substances (NPS) – previously known as “legal highs”.
The group of new drugs, including mephedrone, GHB and BZP, most of which were only recently made illegal, were involved in 52 deaths in 2012, up from 29 in 2011.
Overall, there were 2,597 deaths from drug poisoning in England and Wales in 2012, involving both legal and illegal drugs. The majority of drug deaths were accidental, but the figures also account for nearly 1,000 intentional self-poisonings.
The number of male drug poisoning deaths was down 4 per cent to 1,706. However, the number of women killed by drug poisoning rose by 1 per cent to 891 – the third year in a row the figure has gone up.
Deaths involving heroin or morphine – the biggest killers – fell slightly to 579 deaths – down by one third over five years.
Martin Barnes, chief executive of the charity DrugScope said that despite declines in some areas, evidence of more deaths from certain drugs was worrying.
“The number of deaths involving PMA is, for example, concerning,” he said. “In all probability people would have believed they were taking ecstasy, but PMA is far more toxic while at the same time taking longer to take effect. This can make users believe that the pill isn’t working, encouraging them to increase the dose with sometimes fatal results.”
A third of all drug deaths involved more than one drug, according to coroners’ reports. Alcohol, or long-term alcohol abuse, was also recorded in a third of deaths.
The new report from the ONS was the first to show the geographical spread of drug poisoning deaths.
Mortality rates from drug misuse, involving illegal drugs, were much higher in Wales than in England – with 45.8 deaths per million members of the population, compared to 25.4 in England.
The North-West had the highest mortality rate in England, with 41 deaths per million people.
Mr Barnes said: “No drug equals no risk, but back in the early 1990s when ecstasy was at the height of its popularity among young people on the club/rave scene, there was a body of public health knowledge that would have helped protect people and probably saved lives.
“Much of that knowledge, for example, not increasing dosage and not allowing the body to get over-heated is less known to many of the current generation of club and festival goers. We need to find ways of reminding young people about this type of information, not only in relation to ecstasy, but also to the many other new drugs now available.”
- 1 This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
- 2 Marijuana use by teenagers does not result in a lower IQ or worse exam results, study finds
- 3 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 4 Jimmy Carr's controversial Oscar Pistorius joke goes too far at the Q Awards
- 5 NHS staff banned from drinking tea or coffee on the job because it looks like they're not working hard enough
Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery: 'I'm living a more fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
Kim Jong-un 'purge': Six North Korea officials missing for weeks 'may have been executed'
Diwali: What is the festival of lights – and how is it celebrated around the world?
Nathan Cirillo: Final pictures emerge of soldier moments before he was shot dead by Ottowa gunman
Jimmy Carr's controversial Oscar Pistorius joke goes too far at the Q Awards
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
£300 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: SSRS Report Developer – 3 Mon...
£95 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Key Stage 1 teacher require...
£32000 - £39000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Ashdown Group: Generalist HR Man...
£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel like your sales role...