Reducing drug related deaths
We believe that to reduce alcohol and drugs related deaths and illnesses a co-ordinated harm reduction strategy needs to be prioritised by relevant structures across all four UK nations.
We call on the Department of Health, NHS, PHE and relevant structure should implement harm reduction strategies to reduce alcohol and drugs related deaths and illnesses, ensuring that conditions including Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), hepatitis C, liver disease, HIV and other substance misuse related illnesses are all addressed.
Whilst acute drugs related deaths are running at an all-time high, so is the number of people with drug and alcohol related illnesses dying as a result of chronic ill health.
These chronic illness related deaths are predominately due to unhealthy lifestyles – alcohol, hepatitis C and tobacco – and far outnumber the deaths from acute drug poisoning.
It is imperative to provide comprehensive access to the life-saving drug Naloxone – and overdose management training – across the whole of the United Kingdom, in line with World Health Organization (WHO), ACMD and public health guidelines and advice.
There were 3,744 drug poisoning deaths involving both legal and illegal drugs in England and Wales registered in 2016; this is 70 higher than 2015 (an increase of 2%) and the highest number since comparable statistics began in 1993.
Ensuring the availability of services and National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) approved treatments for all patients diagnosed with hepatitis C, in line with international guidelines, is vital.
There has been a dramatic reduction in funding for young people’s drug and alcohol services. If the sector is to have any success with tackling intergenerational substance misuse, more funding is required for prevention services.
Engagement and consultation with service users, families and people outside of services, are essential in developing local strategies and services.
Effective interventions such as drug consumption rooms should be encouraged.