4,907 drug-related deaths were registered in 2022, the highest number since records began.
The ONS published its annual report on drug poisoning in England and Wales on the 19th December 2023, which revealed that there were 4,907 drug-related deaths in 2022 (84.4 per million people). This is similar to the 2021 statistics (4.859 deaths, 84.0 per million people). 3,127 (53.9 deaths per million people) were identified as drug misuse.
In line with figures from the previous decade, the North-East displayed the highest rate of drug-related deaths compared to the other regions in England and Wales, registering 133.9 deaths per million.
Statistics also highlighted the continuation of the disproportionate effect of drug-related deaths among males, with 3,240 deaths recorded in males compared to 1,667 among females. 'Generation X' (people born in the 1970s) continued to experience the highest rate of drug-related deaths.
Just under half of the drug-related deaths recorded in 2022 involved opiates (46.1%) which is similar to figures from the previous year (45.7%). There was also a 2% increase in deaths involving cocaine (857) that occurred in 2022, representing an increase for the 11th year in a row. NHS APA Chair, Danny Hames, commented on the statistics, saying,
“Year on year increases in drug-related deaths have now become an all too familiar pattern, and a stain on our national conscience. These are not just statistics – they are the stories of thousands of lives cut short, and tens of thousands of bereaved families, friends, and colleagues.
The government has committed to reducing drug-related mortality, and we must work together across our systems of care to support this endeavour. Well-funded, high-quality drug treatment services and a robust harm reduction offer are crucial parts of the solution. But we must also tackle the corrosive effect of stigma towards people who use drugs, which can lethally undermine an individual’s capacity to seek help.”
The NHS APA extends their heartfelt sympathy and condolences to all those affected by drug-related deaths in 2022 and previous years and is committed to ending the widespread stigma against people with addiction. You can learn more about our national #StigmaKills campaign here.