Record number of drug deaths revealed

Drug deaths in England and Wales have increased to their highest numbers since 1993, official figures have revealed.

It comes as separate figures from Scotland show over 1,000 prescriptions for the heroin substitute methadone were given out every day on average in 2018-19.

The UK Government said: “Every drug-related death is a tragedy” and it is “absolutely committed to reducing” substance misuse.


Figures released yesterday by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed there were 4,359 deaths related to drug poisoning in England and Wales registered in 2018.

At 16 per cent, this was the highest annual increase since the ONS began collating such figures in the early 90s.

It said two-thirds of the drug-related deaths were linked to drug misuse.

Deaths involving cocaine doubled between 2015 and 2018 to 637.


In Scotland, figures showed a total of 406,588 methadone prescriptions were handed out in 2018-19.

It was also recently revealed that of the 1,187 people who died in drug-related cases in 2018 in Scotland, 560 were linked with methadone.

Responding to the ONS figures, the Department of Health and Social Care said: “Every drug-related death is a tragedy. While drug misuse is at similar levels to a decade ago, we are absolutely committed to reducing it and the harms it causes.

“We have commissioned a major independent review of drugs, which will look at a wide range of issues, including the system of support and enforcement around drug misuse, in order to inform our thinking about what more can be done to tackle harm from drugs.”

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