Drug-poisoning deaths in England and Wales have reached the highest number since records began back in 1993, the Office for National Statistics has revealed today.
Research by experts at the UK Addiction Treatment Group (UKAT) shows 22 drug-related death happened in Milton Keynes during 2020. This compares to just eight in 2010.
Across the South East, drug poisoning deaths rose by 5% in 2020 compared to 2019 and by 60% in the last decade.
The majority of drug poisoning deaths had an opiate on the death certificate. These include heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl and pain relievers.
The report also reveals a concerning annual rise in the number of deaths where Benzodiazepines are listed on the death certificate, while deaths from new psychoactive substances doubled..
Eytan Alexander, CEO of UKAT said: "It goes without saying that 2020 was a difficult year, but today’s report reveals the horrific fall-out from such a powerful ‘stay home’ message. Addicts living across the South East with long-term drug dependency and abuse issues were forced into isolation and ultimately were unable to seek help or treatment that could have saved their lives, even though some services were there to help."
He added: "We must remember that today's report is about mothers, fathers, grandparents, neighbours and friends who have died because of drugs. They have lost their lives in a year where everything other than the pandemic was swept to one side and put on hold.
“Trust me when I say that we won't stop until the government announces an injection of protected funds into effective treatment programmes and that council's across the South East are accountable for their communities' treatment outcomes.
"We're living in a parallel pandemic; a drug, alcohol and mental health pandemic that has only worsened due to the virus. Enough is enough now, we need to come together as a society and take real action to help vulnerable people before more people lose their lives."
Help, support and a free 24/7 live chat support service for drug abuse can be found at www.ukat.co.uk/drugs/v58/