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Drug deaths hit record high in England and Wales, figures show

BMJ 2016; 354 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i4921 (Published 09 September 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;354:i4921
  1. Anne Gulland
  1. London

New figures from the Office for National Statistics show that there were 3674 deaths related to illegal and legal drug use in England and Wales in 2015, the highest number since 1993. The number of deaths has risen sharply in recent years, up from 2652 in 2011.1 Drug charities have blamed the record number of drug poisoning deaths recorded in 2015 on the government’s “ideological” drug policy.

Of these deaths 2479 (67%) involved illegal drugs only. The number of deaths involving heroin or morphine (or both) continues to rise,2 and is now the highest on record. It has doubled in the past three years, from 579 in 2012 to 1201 in 2015. The ONS report said that an increase in the purity of heroin over recent years could partly explain the increase in the number of deaths, …

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