North Somerset sees rise in drug-related deaths

Drug addiction.

North Somerset has seen a rise in the number of drug-related deaths. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The number of drug-related deaths in North Somerset has risen as the total in England and Wales reaches a 28-year high.

Figures which were given by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) confirmed 14 people died due to drug poisoning in 2020, with a further 12 deaths determined to be the result of drug misuse.

In total, eight more drug-related deaths were recorded in 2020 than in 2019.

North Somerset Council's deputy leader, and executive for adult health, Cllr Mike Bell, told the Mercury and Times that it will do all in its power to prevent this number from rising further.

Cllr Mike Bell.

Cllr Mike Bell is responsible for North Somerset Council's Adult Social Care strategy. - Credit: Archant

Cllr Bell said: "Any drug-related death is one too many and I am sorry to see 26 lives lost in North Somerset in 2020.

"North Somerset Council commissions health charity We Are With You to provide support to those with substance abuse problems. Every year, they provide excellent support to service users to ensure they are safe and healthy and are supported through a programme of intervention.

"Drug-related deaths in North Somerset are relatively low and have changed in line with the national average over the last few years, but we continue to take action to reduce the risks of deaths and minimise harms from substance misuse."

Staff celebrating the opening of We Are With You. Picture: Nye Jones

We Are With You opened its North Somerset branch in 2020. - Credit: Archant

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We Are With You promises clients a non-judgemental service with both face-to-face and online appointments.

It was one of the few services which stayed open throughout the coronavirus pandemic, and its manager told the Mercury that the feeling of isolating has been a common theme with its patients in the past 18 months.

Gill Flanagan said: "With each lockdown, it is difficult for people dependant on drugs as most services are closed.

"When people have to isolate or stay somewhere alone, there is more risk of them using. There was not a considerable rise in demand, but the pandemic's effect was apparent."

We Are With You has launched a Nice To See You online service to see how people are coping via Google Meet if they cannot access appointments in person.

Mrs Flanagan added: "People have other complex needs such as homelessness or other factors, all of which contribute to other issues."

We Are With You, formerly Addaction, is now walk-in appointments at its North Somerset headquarters in Weston's Boulevard.

For more information on the services offered, log on to www.wearewithyou.org.uk