Low drug-related death rates hide middle-aged heroin problem

heroinLondon has the lowest rate of deaths caused by drug abuse for any region of England and Wales. Last year 226 people in the capital died as a result of taking drugs. Most of them were men and most of them were the result of an unintentional overdose.

In the early 90s London had the worst record in the country for drug related deaths. The number of people killed reached a peak at the end of the 90s.

Drugs death london

During that period rates in other regions of the country began to rise, particularly in the North West of England. In the 2000’s the rate in London began to fall gently and since 2011 London has had the lowest mortality rate. Last year there were 25.4 deaths per million people in the capital. In the North West of England the rate is over 60 per million and in the North East nearly 70. The North East has seen the biggest increase over 20 years. In 1993 its mortality rate for drug misuse was just 14 per million.

drugs national

The data is based on registered deaths where drug misuse is defined as the cause of death. The data is collected by the ONS. The national figures give some surprising insights into the demographics of drug abuse.

The group with the highest death rate through drug misuse are not young people, as might be assumed, but people 40-49. The number of heroin and morphine related deaths in this group for 2014 is the highest on record. People aged 30-39 have the second highest death rate. People in their 20s have a lower mortality for drug misuse than those in their 50s and 60s.

Drugs deaths age

Men are 2.5 times more likely than women to die from drug misuse. 79% of the male deaths were unintentional. The rate for women is slightly lower at 69% and women show a greater level of intentional self-harm.

The national data also shows a substantial increase in the number of deaths caused by heroin and morphine which have risen by two thirds between 2012 and 2014. Deaths caused by cocaine use have also increased.

The detailed data at local authority level is grouped in batches of 3 years. The picture for London for 2012-14 shows that the highest deaths rates are in Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea and Islington. The lowest rates are in the outer boroughs of Merton, Hillingdon and Enfield.

Drugs death map

 

Source data

See also

Violence, disruption and drugs – why 20,000 pupils were excluded from school last year