Dozens of drug treatment-related deaths in West and East Cheshire

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Dozens of people have died while undergoing drug treatment in Cheshire West and Chester, and East Cheshire, over a three-year period, figures show.

Amid an increase in the number of deaths nationwide, the drug reform charity Release has warned that drug-related death rates are higher among those who do not come into contact with them. processing services.

Figures from the Office for Improving Health and Disparities show 25 people died while undergoing drug treatment in West Cheshire between April 2018 and March 2021.

However, that figure was down from the 32 people who died between April 2017 and March 2020.

Between April 2016 and March 2019, there were 35 deaths in the region.

In East Cheshire, 33 people died while undergoing drug treatment between April 2018 and March 2021.

These are 30 people who died between April 2017 and March 2020.

But between April 2016 and March 2019, there were 32 deaths in the region.

Across England, 6,940 people died while on drug treatment in 2018-21, compared to 6,164 and 5,889 in the previous two three-year periods.

Release, who includes drug law experts, said treatment-related deaths were of concern, but more details on the cause of death are needed.

Dr Laura Garius, head of policy for the charity, said: “We don’t know whether or not these deaths were substance-related, how these deaths vary by treatment setting and type of intervention, and we cannot disentangle the role that the coronavirus pandemic may have played.

“The lack of additional information creates fear and alarmism about the role of treatment in the death of clients, when in reality we know that drug-related death rates are higher in people who are not. in contact with drug treatment services. ”

She welcomed an increase in funding for drug treatment by the government’s new 10-year strategy, but added that certain types of treatment – including safe medical supplies for certain drugs – were not. included.

The Department of Health and Social Affairs said its recently announced drug strategy will tackle the root causes of substance abuse, including £ 780million for treatment and recovery.

He said illegal drugs cost the taxpayer nearly £ 20 billion each year and that nearly half of all break-ins and thefts in England are committed by heroin and crack addicts.

A DHSC spokesperson said: “Drug abuse can have a tragic impact on the health of individuals, their families and their livelihoods.

“Like other services, drug and alcohol treatment services have been affected by the pandemic, but most services have returned as close to the status quo as possible.”

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