The risk of death from drugs has increased 55% since 2010 due to government cuts, experts say | Drugs
The likelihood that users will die of drugs like heroin has increased by 55% since the Conservative Party came to power in 2010.
A study by University College London (UCL) and the University of Bristol released on Saturday shows the high-profile strategy will begin to repair some of the damage caused by Tory’s cuts to drug treatment services since 2010, a decade in which thousands died as a result of an overdose. The 10-year strategy was unveiled last week by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and pledged Â£ 780 million for the drug treatment system to local authorities in England.
It follows a sustained surge in drug deaths in England and Wales to their highest level since records began in 1993, with 4,561 deaths last year. In a study carried out in the. should be published Lancet Public Health Medical Journal researchers tried to definitively answer why the number of drug deaths had increased over the past decade. Their results refute one of the most common explanations: that the older the population of opioid users, the greater the likelihood that they will die.
Instead, the study argues that “divesting” from drug treatment services was a potential key factor, noting that a government-sponsored review last year concluded that the services were struggling to meet basic user needs. The report said: âThe rising number of fatal drug poisoning in the population over the past 10 years cannot be explained by the aging of the population.
“Community drug treatment services are sometimes the only point of contact between people who use illegal opioids and health services, and with funding cuts, they now offer a narrow range of services with little scope for holistic care.”
Dan Lewer, a research fellow in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at UCL, said reducing the availability of treatments such as methadone for drug addiction was a major factor. He said, “I would argue that because of the great protective benefits of these services like methadone and the greatly increased risk of death when people leave this treatment, it is the prime candidate for that increased risk.”
Lewer said the government’s 2012 health bill, which transferred much of the public health work from the NHS to the councils – whose budgets were cut by a third – meant critical drug support and treatments were severely weakened. In 2012, there were 2,597 deaths from drug poisoning, more than 40% less than the latest figures.
Lewer added that the potential to repair some of the damage done in the last decade was “absolutely critical”, but that some of the strategy’s formulations were not helpful, such as the frequent references to “substance abuse”.
He said, âThe language is stigmatizing and speaks of addicts, criminals and punishment. This is not helpful and continues to push people to the margins of society. It is in everyone’s interest to support this group and invest in needle exchanges, quality treatments and services that actually help. “
The strategy has also been criticized for being presented by politicians, including the Prime Minister, as part of a crackdown on middle-class drug users. Experts and police say that the topic cannot be defined or targeted along class boundaries.
The study also found that heroin users were much less likely to use health services, meaning they were twice as likely to die from chronic health problems such as cancer and heart disease than they would from an overdose.
Compared to their peers in the general population, heroin users are three times more likely to die from cancer and four times more likely to die from heart disease, with homelessness, poverty and mental health issues playing a role.
Lewer added that the statistical analysis of the study only lasted until 2018 because the data became less reliable after that year, although the researchers said there was no evidence that the likelihood of dying from drug overdose has since increased have decreased.
In promoting the strategy last Monday, Health Minister Sajid Javid said more than half of the people who are addicted to opiates and crack cocaine are not receiving treatment and are in need of treatment.
The Ministry of the Interior was contacted for comment.