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28 January 2021

With You responds to new NHS Drug Misuse statistics

NHS Digital today released new statistics showing the impact of drug misuse on NHS services in England in 2019/20. Headline statistics are as follows: 

  • There were 7,027 hospital admissions for drug related mental and behavioural disorders, lower than 2018/19 but 21% higher than 2009/10, with admissions around five times more likely in the most deprived areas compared to the least deprived areas. 
  • There were 16,994 hospital admissions for poisoning by drug misuse. 6% lower than 2018/19 (18,053), but 9% higher than 2012/13 (15,580). Admissions were around 5 times more likely in the most deprived areas, compared to the least deprived areas. 
  • There were 99,782 admissions with a primary or secondary diagnosis of drug-related mental and behavioural disorders. 3% higher than 2018/19, when there were 96,705 admissions, Admissions were over 8 times more likely in the most deprived areas, compared to the least deprived areas

Responding to the statistics, Laura Bunt, Deputy CEO at drug, alcohol and mental health charity With You (We are With You) said:

“These statistics show that drug related harms in England continue to affect thousands of people directly and millions indirectly. When someone ends up in hospital due to drugs it’s often because of a lack of knowledge of the potential dangers of what they are taking. At the same time, while falling slightly compared to previous years, the number of people still being admitted for mental health related issues shows what happens when people who use drugs are locked out of accessing mental health support. 

“We know that people who use drugs problematically but aren’t in treatment are most likely to die of a drug-related cause. The Government's proposed new addiction strategy represents an opportunity to get more people the support they need. This includes improving the diversity of treatment through making services much more easily available to all communities, normalising seeking support, and reaching people where they are. 

“In Cornwall we run a hospital outreach service, with workers engaging people who are admitted to hospital for drug and alcohol issues, while elsewhere our young person’s workers provide drug education within schools and we employ counsellors to help people process and deal with trauma. But this kind of innovative work costs money. That’s why we warmly welcome the government’s recently announced £80m funding boost for treatment services this year and hope the recommendations from the Dame Carol Black Review regarding longer term funding increases are put into practice. 

“However, the differences in hospital admissions and deaths between the most deprived and least deprived areas show how problematic drug use is often a reaction to people’s surroundings. Issues such as rising homelessness, poor mental health and a lack of economic opportunities in some areas all lead to people using drugs. Add to that the added strain and anxiety of living through a pandemic and it becomes clear that it’s extremely important that the government stays true to its levelling up agenda to address inequalities across the country.”