Addaction responds to NHS statistics on drug-misuse

The number of hospital admissions in England with a diagnosis of a drug-related mental or behavioural disorder has reached an all-time high, according to statistics released by the NHS today.

On drug misuse related hospital admissions (England):

  • There were 7,545 hospital admissions with a primary diagnosis of drug-related mental health and behavioural disorders. This is 12 per cent lower than 2015/16 but 12 per cent higher than 2006/07
  • There were 14,053 hospital admissions with a primary diagnosis of poisoning by illicit drugs. This is 7 per cent lower than 2015/16 but 40 per cent more than 2006/07

Karen Tyrell, spokesperson for drug, alcohol and mental health charity Addaction said: “People with both mental health and substance misuse issues can find it extremely difficult to access mental health services. All too frequently mental health services refuse treatment because a person is not abstinent, or has not been abstinent for a sufficient length of time. This is despite government guidance and best practice. Getting people connected with  community services at an earlier stage could prevent hospital admissions.”

It’s positive that the numbers have come down over the past year, but we know that there is still a long way to go before they could be said to be acceptable. Harm reduction must be taken seriously and services such as needle exchanges must be adequately provided across the country.”

On deaths related to drug misuse (England and Wales):

Ms Tyrell said: “Drug-related deaths are the highest on record and tackling this issue needs to be a priority. We know that treatment saves hundreds of lives every year and it is vital that more and more people engage with structured recovery programmes. Similarly, we know that naloxone saves lives by reversing the effects of an overdose. There needs to be greater provision of take-home naloxone kits, particularly for groups at acute risk such as prison leavers. Last year the UK accounted for 31 per cent of drug related deaths in Europe - a national disgrace. Given that drug deaths are on the rise – now is not the time to contemplate any further cuts to drug treatment services.”

On Drug use among children (England):

In 2016, 24 per cent of pupils reported they had ever taken drugs. This compares to 15 per cent in 2014.

The likelihood of having ever taken drugs increased with age, from 11 per cent of 11 year olds to 37 per cent of 15 year olds.

Rick Bradley, Operations Manager at Addaction’s ‘Mind and Body’ programme said:

“The rise in these figures might partly be attributed to the inclusion of a question about nitrous oxide (laughing gas) in the most recent school survey on smoking, drinking and drug use. Nonetheless, it does highlight the importance of young people getting accurate and up-to-date information on potential risks of substances and how to protect themselves and their peers, supporting them to make more informed and safer choices in general.”