Skip to main content
26 February 2020

We Are With You (formerly Addaction) calls for action to reduce drug related deaths

On 27 February the Government will hold a UK wide summit in Glasgow, with experts convening to discuss how best to address the issue of drug misuse and drug related deaths. 

Analysis by the drug, alcohol and mental health charity We Are With You (formerly Addaction) has found that over 110 people are dying each week of a drug related cause in the UK. That equates to more than 15 people every day. 

Laura Bunt, Acting CEO at drug, alcohol and mental health charity We Are With You (formerly Addaction), said: 

“Every drug related death is preventable, but over 110 people are dying of a drug related cause every week in the UK. That equates to over 15 deaths every single day. Each death sends ripples through families and communities, with the impact continuing to be felt years down the line. 

“The statistics are deeply concerning, but this summit represents an opportunity to properly address the issue and follow the evidence of what works. The new government strategy must be made alongside people with lived experience of problematic drug use, treating them with compassion and dignity.“

“Most of us will go through tough times at some point in our lives. When it becomes too painful to be in your head, drugs can offer an instant escape. We know that only roughly one in eight of people with a mental health issue are receiving support, while people who use drugs face additional barriers to accessing help. This has to change. 

“But it can take time to get to the point where people are ready to address the underlying reason behind their drug use, and there will always be ups and downs along the way. So part of the new strategy must focus on how to keep people as safe as possible while they use drugs. We need a national push on increasing access to treatment and therapeutic support as well as on the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone, until it has the same status as defibrillators. Meanwhile, other measures that keep people safe like drug testing, safe consumption rooms and heroin assisted treatment must be on the table in parts of the country where there’s a need.

“We also must remember that regular drug use is a reaction to our environment. It’s no surprise that drug related deaths are highest in the UK’s most deprived areas. Any strategy must look at the bigger picture and address issues such as child poverty, homelessness, prison reform and stretched mental health services. 

“Drug related deaths are preventable. It’s time drug policy started to reflect this.”