The data contained within ‘Statistics on Drug Misuse: England, 2018’ is largely made up of data that has previously been published such as the Crime Survey, Office for National Statistics, deaths related to drug poisoning, National Drug Treatment Monitoring System (NDTMS) data, Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (APMS) and the school based Smoking, Drinking and Drug use.
However; there is some newer additional data from Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) relating to drug-related hospital admissions.
Of particular interest are the hospital admissions with a primary diagnosis of drug-related mental and behavioural disorders which are reported as down 12% from 2015-16 (but still 12% higher than 2006-07). When you add secondary diagnosis to the statistics you get 82,134 admissions which is a similar number to the previous period of 2015-16 but this is still more than double the number captured in 2006-07
Hospital admissions with a primary diagnosis of poisoning by illicit drugs were 7% lower than 2015-16 but were 40% higher than those in 2006-07.
As we are all aware drug-related deaths are the highest since records began and we must focus all of our efforts to prioritise and address this issue. It is widely acknowledged that to reduce the numbers of drug-related deaths services must prioritise the engagement and retention of more individuals in quality treatment as half of the people who die each year are not in treatment. Perhaps services need to reflect on what the offer for those not yet ready to engage in the utopia of long term recovery is and make committing to treatment a worthwhile and suitable endeavour.
The distribution of Naloxone needs to be improved as evidenced by the recent national survey conducted by Release that highlighted that only an average of 12 take-home naloxone kits were given out for every 100 people using opiates – equivalent to just 12% coverage; the evidence is clear that naloxone saves lives by reversing the effects of an overdose and increased provision of take-home naloxone kits, especially for those at risk of greater of harm i.e prison leavers.
In 2017 the UK made up 31% of European drug related deaths. With further reductions to the public health grant and local authority budgets the treatment system looks to be in further peril of catastrophic and life threatening budget cuts.
Another point of note within the statistical release was around young people. The report highlights that in 2016, 24% of pupils reported they had ever taken drugs. Compared to 15% in 2014.
The likelihood of having ever taken drugs increased with age, from 11% of 11 year olds to 37 per cent of 15 year olds.
We can most likely attribute this rise to the inclusion of a question about nitrous oxide within the most recent school survey on smoking, drinking and drug use. However, and as the report highlights “this still represents a large increase which has not been observed in other data sources. Therefore an estimate from the next survey in 2018 is required before we can be confident that these survey results reflect a genuine trend in the wider population”.
The full release can be viewed here: http://digital.nhs.uk/catalogue/PUB30210