England, Wales and Scotland – the latter nation being the worst performer in Europe in this area – recorded fatal overdose records last year, according to official statistics which implicate the cocaine and opiates. In 2020, 4,561 fatal overdoses were recorded in England and Wales, a rate of 76.7 per million inhabitants, a jump of 3.8% compared to 2019 and unheard of since the start of the surveys in 1993, the National Bureau of Statistics (ONS) said on Tuesday.
Almost half of these overdoses involved an opioid, while deaths from cocaine use jumped 9.7%. “This general trend is mainly due to deaths linked to opiates, but also to the increase in deaths linked to other substances such as cocaine”, explained the ONS. There is a “sharp” divide between the north and south of England in the drug abuse death rate. The North East, a disadvantaged region, recorded the largest increase, while London recorded the lowest rates.
Increase in Scotland for seven years
Asked by AFP, the ONS said it was too early to assess the effect of repeated lockdowns last year in the United Kingdom on this trend. Scotland, which has the highest overdose death rate in Europe, announced last week that more than 1,300 people have died in 2020 after using drugs. This figure has continued to increase for seven years despite the increased efforts of the Scottish authorities in the face of this dramatic situation.
The Scottish heroin crisis burst onto the international scene in 1996 with Danny Boyle’s film “Trainspotting”, set in Edinburgh. More than twenty years later, overdose deaths hit the “Trainspotting generation” hard, which began to use heroin in the 1980s and 1990s.