Dozens of Wiganers were admitted to hospital last year after poisoning themselves with illicit drugs, shock new figures reveal.
According to health statistics, rates of drug misuse in the borough remain worse than the regional average.
Although a drop in the number of cases compared with the previous 12 months has been welcomed by health bosses.
The report on drug misuse released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre shows 166 residents were admitted to Wigan hospitals due to poisoning by illicit drugs last year. This compares favourably to the previous year’s total of 191.
However, the admission rate per 100,000 of population for the borough stands at 53, higher than the North West average of 41.
Prof Kate Ardern, director of public health for Wigan, told the Evening Post the figures highlight that, despite progress being made, officials face a tough task to cut down on drug related health problems.
She said today: “The reduction in the number of illicit drug poisoning hospital admissions is encouraging.
“The figures reflect the work and strong partnership with multiple agencies in the community supporting individuals and families with drug issues.
“Whilst the feedback is positive and confirms we are moving in the right direction, we recognise that further work is required to strengthen our position within the borough and achieve better outcomes for Wigan residents in the coming years.”
Across the country there were 14,280 hospital admissions with a primary diagnosis of poisoning by illicit drugs in 2014/15 - a rise of 57 per cent since 2004/5.
Prof Ardern also pointed to the progress the borough’s drug and alcohol team has made and the recent securing of £253,000 worth of funds from Public Health England to build a straw bale building on the site of Greenslate Community Farm.
The building will house a community dairy and bakery, tea room and farm shop providing a range of recovery and volunteering opportunities for service users, according to a recent council report.
HSCIC statistician, Paul Niblett said: “Today’s report gives insight into the misuse of drugs in society, and shines a light on the prevalence of drug use among different age groups.
“Reporting changes in rates of drug-related hospital admissions and misuse of drugs in adults provides valuable information for primary and secondary healthcare services, policy makers and drug rehabilitation professionals.”