Growth in ‘Spice’ use sees spike in drug related hospital admissions in Wales
Latest statistics published by Public Health Wales (PHW) show a huge rise in the number of people admitted to hospital due to the use of Cocaine and synthetic drugs such as ‘Spice’ and ‘Black Mamba.’
According to figures published by Public Health Wales, Over the last five years, increases in hospital admissions related to cannabis/cannabinoids have increased by 73% and for cocaine by 81%.
The number of people admitted to hospital after using cannabinoids has risen from 766 in 2013 to 1,323 last year.
In the last year, 464 people in Wales sought treatment in hospital after taking Cocaine.
Admissions due to opioids such as heroin and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl remain the highest with 3,051 last year.
The overall number of hospital admissions for poisonings with named illicit drugs has increased by 3.6% from 6,290 in 2015-16 to 6,518 in 2016-17 and by 21% in the five-year period since 2012-13.
Hospital admissions for poisonings with illicit drugs
Among young people, both self-report use and admissions for alcohol and illicit drugs have continued to decline, with the exception of cannabinoids and cocaine.
Josie Smith, Head of the Substance Misuse Programme at Public Health Wales said:
“While it is encouraging to see that alcohol and drug misuse among the under-25s continues to decline, the data have also highlighted big changes in the pattern of alcohol and substance misuse.
“The increase in harms associated with cannabis and cannabinoids are particularly challenging to interpret.
This is in large part due to the growth in the use of synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists including ‘Spice’, which are often mistakenly described as ‘legal highs’.
“These substances do not behave like cannabis and in Wales, and across Europe, have resulted in many hospitalisations and even deaths.”
The harms associated with alcohol remain more than two times higher than those associated with drug use according to PHW.
In Flintshire, there were 1598 hospital admissions per 100,000 population attributed to alcohol, one of the lowest rates across all Wales and below the 1759 per 100,000 population Wales average.
The number of hospital admissions in Flintshire attributed to alcohol fell by 2% last year, it has remained relatively stable over the past five years.
Earlier this week the Welsh Government unveiled a new minimum alcohol pricing law.
The government believe there are around 50,000 alcohol-related hospital admissions a year, costing the Welsh NHS £120m annually, in 2015, there were 463 alcohol-related deaths in Wales.
The Bill proposes to introduce a minimum price for alcohol supplied in Wales, and to make it an offence for alcohol to be supplied below that price.
New law to set minimum price for selling alcohol in Wales unveiled by Government