Posted: Thu 11th Jul 2024

Opioids are now the leading factor in drug-related deaths in Wales

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

The latest figures from Public Health Wales reveal that opioids contributed to more deaths in Wales during 2022-23 than any other substance.

There were 125 opioid-related deaths, with 64 involving heroin or morphine, and the remaining 61 involving other opioids such as methadone, codeine, or tramadol.

However, more people than ever before are carrying naloxone, a life-saving drug that can reverse the effects of opioid poisoning.

Naloxone was used in 303 overdose events in Wales last year, helping to prevent many deaths.

The number of people carrying naloxone has increased year on year since it was first introduced in 2009. In 2022-23, over 6,000 take-home naloxone kits were provided.

Opioids are the most common substance group recorded in drug misuse deaths in Wales.

In 2022, 61% of deaths involved an opioid. Of the 125 opioid deaths, 64 involved heroin or morphine, while the remaining 61 deaths involved at least one other opioid.

The number of deaths where cocaine was a contributing factor rose again for another consecutive year.

In 2022, cocaine was recorded in 52 deaths, representing 26% of all drug misuse deaths, the third highest after opioids and benzodiazepines, which accounted for 30% of drug deaths.

There has been a significant increase in the number of deaths involving cocaine over the last three years.

Additionally, there has been an increase in reported cocaine-related hospitalisations and more individuals presenting for treatment within substance misuse services.

More deaths have been reported where cocaine was the only substance listed, with a decrease in deaths where cocaine was used in combination with other substances.

Common substances listed alongside cocaine include heroin, morphine, and other opioids.

Drug deaths resulting from multiple substances (poly drug use) remained high at 126 deaths.

Most drug misuse deaths occurred in those over 50, making up 25% of all drug deaths in 2022, with 45 deaths recorded in this age group.

There were 13 drug deaths in people under the age of 25.

Since 2003, Wales has maintained a higher rate of drug misuse deaths than England, except for three years (2004, 2014, and 2020).

In 2022, Wales had 71 drug deaths per million population, compared to 53 per million in England.

Rates of drug misuse deaths have increased in both countries over the past two decades.

Drug misuse deaths were over five times higher among those living in the 20% most deprived areas compared to the 20% least deprived areas in Wales.

The local authorities with the highest rates in 2022 were Swansea (14.3 deaths per 100,000 population) and Neath Port Talbot (13.3 deaths per 100,000 population).

The lowest rates were observed in Monmouthshire (2.3 deaths per 100,000 population), Flintshire (2.8 deaths per 100,000 population), and Carmarthenshire (3.1 deaths per 100,000 population).

Rick Lines, Head of the Substance Misuse Programme for Public Health Wales, said, “The number of deaths from drug-related causes remains unacceptably high in Wales.”

“These deaths are tragic and preventable and take a toll on families and communities across the country.”

“It is, however, encouraging to see that more opioid drug deaths are being prevented by the use of naloxone and that this vital life-saving medication is being carried by more people in Wales than ever before.”

“Naloxone can be ordered for free in Wales by calling Dan 24/7 or by visiting their website.”

 

[Photo: depositphotos.com]

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