Drug deaths quadruple in St Albans


Drugs - Credit: Archant

The number of deaths by drug misuse has increased by 450 per cent in St Albans over a 12 year period.

St Albans district has seen numbers rise from two in 2005-2007, to 11 in 2014-2016, according to data from the Office of National Statistics.

A total of 57 people have died of drug misuse in the district over the last 10 years. Across Herts, the number has risen from 45 in 2005-07 to 86 in 2014-16.

A Herts county council spokesperson said: “The rate of drug related deaths in St Albans is at 2.6 per 100,000 population, lower than England’s rate of 4.2 and similar to Hertfordshire’s rate of 2.5 The East of England rate is 3.7 and the London rate 3.2.

“The number of drug related deaths in St Albans did increase from 10 in 2011-13 to 11 in 2014-16, but the rate has actually gone down from 2.8 per 100,000 population to 2.6.

“There can be multiple causes of drug-related deaths. Many heroin users who started to use in the 1980s and 1990s are now experiencing physical and mental health conditions that make them much more susceptible to overdoses.

“In addition, a significant increase in purity in some street drugs means people used to less pure drugs are at increased risk of death from overdosing.”

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Steve Smith, county services manager at drug charity Spectrum said: “Our service is currently engaged with more than 1,300 individuals and since the service started, we have helped approximately 6,800 people in the area.

“In this time, more than 2,300 people have successfully overcome their substance misuse issues with us.”

Both Spectrum and Herts county council have introduced a number of measures, including vaccinations, and a drug called naloxone, which is used in life or death situations to temporarily reverse the effects of opioids such as heroin, methadone, morphine.

Mr Smith said: “In the last 18 months Spectrum has issued approximately 600 naloxone kits.

“The naloxone kits and training we provide have been used to save 30 people from overdosing across Hertfordshire.”

England and Wales had 3,744 drug poisoning deaths in 2016, its highest number since 1993.

Of these, 69 per cent were drug poisoning deaths.

To see the data, visit www.ons.gov.uk