Chesterfield bucks national trend with fewer drug deaths

Drug user.
Drug user.

The number of deaths from drug poisonings has fallen in Chesterfield over the past five years – bucking a national trend which has seen them rise to the highest on record.

The latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show across Derbyshire there were 126 drug deaths from 2016-2018 compared to 118 in 2013-15, a seven per cent rise.

Of those deaths, 82 were men and 44 were women and 96 were recorded as down to misuse.

Data obtained by addiction support group UK Addiction Treatment (UKAT) showed that Derbyshire has seen a seven per cent rise in drug poisoning deaths in the last five years and in parts of Nottinghamshire they have more than doubled.

Chesterfield actually saw a fall in drugs related deaths from 35 in 2013-15 to 26 from 2016-18.

However there was a big increase in the Derbyshire Dales over the same period from three to 12 deaths.

Drug addiction experts at UKAT blame drastic cuts to drug and alcohol treatment services across Yorkshire and the Humber for the rise in deaths.

The Derbyshire figures compare to record rises in Nottinghamshire, where overall all drug deaths rose by 24 per cent, and Yorkshire which has seen a 25 per cent rise.

Drug deaths in England and Wales have reached the highest number and highest annual increase since records began back in 1993,

Eytan Alexander, managing director of UKAT, has hit out at the figures and called for more action from authorities to support people who are suffering with drug addiction.

He said: “We’ve highlighted the drastic reduction in budget cuts to substance misuse services every year since 2013 and unfortunately, these figures now show the impact this is having on the most vulnerable people living across the East Midlands.

“It cannot be coincidence that as councils here slash drug and alcohol treatment budgets by £3 million over 6 years, the highest number of people on record lose their lives to drugs.
“We urge councils across the East Midlands to invest in effective drug and alcohol services next year to avoid more loss of life.”

Charities have said that most deaths from substance abuse are avoidable, and warned that drug abusers need better care to help deal with underlying health conditions.

A Derbyshire County Council spokesman said: “We invest more than £5m per year in work to prevent people from taking drugs as well as services to help those who do and programmes to support their recovery.

“This area of our work is highly complex with no one simple solution. We recognise progress in some areas but also realise there is still work to do.”

“We recognise the importance of these services for some of our most vulnerable residents and have protected investment in substance misuse services against a reducing public health grant.

“We acknowledge continued cuts to the grant are a challenge and the council has previously raised this concern with central government as part of its Fair Share for Derbyshire campaign.”

Figures released by the ONS provide local data for drug-related deaths in three-year periods.

Across Derbyshire the comparative figures give a mixed picture with some areas showing a dramatic rise.

In the Derbyshire Dales there were 12 drug poisoning deaths in 2015 compared to three deaths in 2013-2015.

In Amber Valley there were 20 deaths in 2016-18 compared to 15 deaths in 2013-2015.

In Bolsover there were 15 deaths in 2016-18 compared to 11 deaths in 2013-2015. In High Peak there were 15 deaths in 2016-18 compared to 14 in 2013-2015. North East Derbyshire saw 12 deaths in 2016-18 compared to nine in 2013-15.

However in Erewash there were 18 deaths in 2016-18 compared with 21 in 2013-115.

South Derbyshire had eight deaths in 2016-18 compared to 10 in 2013-15.

Information on the type of drugs recorded as being a factor in deaths is not released for the local authority.

But nationally according to the ONS between 2017 and 2018, there were increases in the number of deaths involving a wide range of substances, though opiates, such as heroin and morphine, continued to be the most frequently mentioned type of drug.

Deaths involving cocaine doubled between 2015 and 2018 to their highest ever level, while the numbers involving new psychoactive substances (NPS) returned to their previous levels after halving in 2017.

ONS statistician Ben Humberstone added: “The number of deaths registered from drug use in 2018 was the highest since our records began in 1993. We have also seen the biggest year-on-year percentage increase.

“Previously, this had been linked to a rise in deaths related to opiates like heroin and morphine, but last year there were also increases in deaths across a wider variety of substances including cocaine and what had been known as “legal highs”.

“We produce these figures to help inform decision makers working towards protecting those at risk of dying from drug poisoning.”

The recent data comes in advance of International Overdose Awareness Day, taking place on Saturday 31st August, an annual event where the world comes together to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma associated with drug-related death.

International Overdose Awareness Day is coordinated by the not-for-profit, public health organisation, Penington Institute. Together with government and non-government organisations, they have held thousands of events in dozens of countries to raise awareness of the impact of dependence and overdose, reduce stigma of drug users and commemorate those who have been lost to overdose.

Local drug and addiction events are being organised across the county to raise awareness of addiction and overdose, reduce stigma and commemorate those who have been lost to drug overdose, in cities including Dorset, Aberdeen, Dundee, London, Bath and Stoke-on-Trent. A full list of UK events being held on International Overdose Awareness Day can be found at: If you are interested in hosting your own event, visit for further information.