Increasing hospital admissions for overdoses in North Somerset

Drug overdoses have risen by almost 50 per cent in the last three years. Picture: Getty

Drug overdoses have risen by almost 50 per cent in the last three years. Picture: Getty - Credit: Archant

Hospital admissions in North Somerset for patients suffering from drug overdoses have risen by almost 50 per cent in the last three years.

Charities say an ageing cohort of opioid users, combined with the increased availability of drugs online, are responsible for the shocking rise.

Between April 2017 and March 2018, 60 people in Weston and North Somerset were admitted to hospital to receive NHS treatment for poisoning by illicit drugs.

According to new NHS figures, this represents a 46 per cent rise since 2015 when the statistics were first recorded.

During the same time period, there were more than 270 admissions for drug-related mental health issues across the district; a 10 per cent rise since last year.

Caroline McLafferty, a spokesman for Addaction which provides community-based drug and alcohol support in Weston and North Somerset, said: “There are several reasons for rises in drug-related hospital admissions.

“One is the ageing cohort of users who started in the 1980s and are often now in declining health.

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“People of varying ages and health are now able to buy drugs online – whether to self-medicate or to avoid street dealing.

“This easily-accessed but unknown territory brings substances of varying content, potency and risk.

“Buyers don’t know what they’re taking or, if they do, what strength it really is.”

NHS figures show that of 270 North Somerset hospital admissions for drug related mental health issues, more than 65 per cent involved male patients.

These figures reflect a wider trend across the South West and the country as a whole.

In the South West, 65 per cent of drug-related mental health admissions involved male patients, compared to 80 per cent across the UK.

Rachel Austin, a service manager for Clevedon-based mental health charity Second Step, is not shocked by the gender differences on a regional or national level.

She added: “It’s no surprise more men are treated in A&E for drug related mental health issues.

“Recent statistics show men are three times more likely to take their own lives than women and more than 60 per cent will not be receiving professional support when they do.

“Our service works with people in North Somerset who have mental health problems, including substance abuse issues, to tackle social isolation and loneliness.”