Waveney worst in Suffolk for heroin misuse deaths

Deaths due to heroin and morphine misuse have risen year on year. PICTURE: Paul Faith/PA Wire

Deaths due to heroin and morphine misuse have risen year on year. PICTURE: Paul Faith/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Waveney suffers from more heroin and morphine misuse deaths than anywhere else in Suffolk, according to data from the Office of National Statistics.

The region sits 48th out of 248 local authorities which reported their rates of fatalities due to the drugs, making it worse than Ipswich and in the top 20pc in England.

The rate for Waveney is 3.1 deaths per 100,000 people between 2014 and 2016, more than one extra death a year than the national average of 1.9, but well behind the country's worst, Blackpool, which has a death rate of 14. The death rate for Ipswich is 1.9.

Public Health England pointed to a link between higher deprivation and drugs misuse, and said: 'Social factors, including housing, employment and deprivation, are associated with substance misuse and these social factors moderate drug treatment outcomes.'

Responding to the figures, Tony Goldson, cabinet member for health at Suffolk County Council, said: 'The rise in instances of drug related death across Suffolk mirrors the national picture with numbers increasing across both England and Wales over recent years.

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'In order to reduce the trajectory in the number of deaths, particularly relating to heroin users, Public Health Suffolk have formed a multi-agency strategic group to drive forward a number of workstreams to tackle the issue.'

A spokesman for Turning Point, which has a hub in Lowestoft, and offers support services across Suffolk to those struggling with substance abuse, attributed the higher death rate to the higher age of average heroin users and societal challenges.

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She said: 'Our population of heroin users are ageing. They can be actively injecting for about 20 years, so we are seeing people who are in their 40s and early 50s with a lot of health related issues.

'We don't see very many people who use a single drug, most use a second such as alcohol which is a second depressant, so their impact and risk of overdose is quite high.'

She added: 'There are also issues around housing and employment. If we are talking about drugs we need to talk about them in the context of the whole community and that is why we are passionate about being part of the community.'

Mr Goldson added: 'Naloxone, an injectable substance which temporarily reverses the effects of overdose has been instrumental in saving lives in recent years and is available through Turning Point. Naloxone will be provided free of charge to anyone at high risk of overdose and their carers.'

Deaths from the misuse of opiates such as heroin and morphine have steadily risen since 1993 when only 155 fatalities were recorded, rising to 1,209 deaths in 2016.

If you or anybody you know is in need of support, call Turning Point on 0300 123 8072.

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