Almost 2,000 people in Wigan are hooked on crack and heroin, figures reveal
Thousands of Wigan residents are hooked on deadly crack cocaine and heroin, shock new figures reveal.
Public Health England estimates that the number of crack and opiate users aged between 15 and 64 years old in the borough in the year ending March 2017 was 1,974.
Some of those were of school age and, worryingly, these figures don’t even include anyone using cocaine in powder form, amphetamines, ecstasy or cannabis.
Opiates can include prescription medicines derived from opium like painkillers such as codeine and morphine plus the heroin substitute methadone, but heroin is the most dangerous and addictive.
Those 1,974 Wigan users are part of a North West figure of almost 50,000.
The number of people living across the North West aged only 15 to 24 and using opiates and/or crack currently stands at 3,758 and is of particular concern to the addiction expert team at UKAT.
CEO and former addict Eytan Alexander said: “Public Health England’s data clearly shows that an alarming number of teenagers and young adults are addicted to these incredibly potent substances.
“They’re seeking the feeling of euphoria at pocket money prices - crack rocks can be purchased for as little as a fiver with dealers available any time of day at the click of a button.
“Teenagers misusing crack and opiates at such an early age will not only suffer with the physical effects of the drugs, but the drugs could impact their education, overall achievement in life and expose them to a criminal environment at a young age, without full understanding of the risks and consequences of their actions.”
Pointing out that the latest figures are two years old, Wigan Council’s public health director Kate Ardern said: “In Wigan Borough we have a very strong offer of support and high levels of engagement with drug users. We also work closely with partners to engage with young people, adults and their families to provide information and treatment to anyone affected by drugs and/or alcohol.
“We also have bespoke interventions in place to support users of opiates and crack cocaine, including clinical interventions, one to one support and a group programme.“We remain committed to offering advice to individuals and families and also offer a Needle Exchange Service in our drug and alcohol sites in Wigan and Leigh. We work closely with 26 pharmacies across the borough who offer this service free of charge, which helps to safely dispose of dirty needles and allows us to speak directly with individuals.
“Our aim is to reduce the number of users in Wigan Borough and although local figures are not too dissimilar to some surrounding areas, we know there is still room for improvement.
“We bring services directly to our communities and work closely with Addaction, our drug and alcohol prevention service, who support individuals of all ages across the borough with substance misuse concerns.
"Our preventative work to tackle this issue is a strong example of how the Deal for Health and Wellness is being put into action every day and we will continue working hard to support our residents to make healthier life choices.”