The rate of Wigan people dying from drug abuse has rocketed since records less than two decades ago.
Alarming figures released by the Office for National Statistics have revealed an increasing rate of drug poisoning deaths from 5.3 per 100,000 people in 2001/03 to 8.4 in 2016/18, much higher than the national average of 6.7.
In this period of time the actual number of poisoning deaths has increased from 48 to 81.
Drug misuse death rates also following the same worrying trend, more than doubling from 3.1 per 100,000 (29) deaths 18 years ago, to 6.7 per 100,000 (65) in the most recent period.
Men are far more likely to die from a drug related death than women, with 12.1 per 100,000 losing their lives in this way compared to 4.6 women.
Drug and alcohol experts at Addaction and UK Addiction Treatment (UKAT), have blamed cutbacks to services for the rising rates calling the deaths a “preventable tragedy”.
Eytan Alexander, managing director of UKAT, said: “The figures are saddening but unsurprising.
“We’ve highlighted the drastic reduction in budget cuts to substance misuse services every year since 2013 and unfortunately, these figures now show the impact this is having on the most vulnerable people living across the North West.
“It cannot be coincidence that as councils here slash drug and alcohol treatment budgets by £16m over six years, the highest number of people on record lose their lives to drugs. We urge councils across the North West to invest in effective drug and alcohol services next year to avoid more loss of life.”
Just last month the Wigan Post revealed cuts of £400,000 to drug and alcohol treatment services in the past five years.
Wigan council deputy leader Keith Cunliffe said that cuts to local authorities and to drug and alcohol services nationally have been “unprecedented”.
Coun Cunliffe assured that the financial reductions hadn’t affected the quality of services.
Professor Kate Ardern, director of public health at Wigan Council, said: “We have seen unprecedented budget cuts to local authorities as well as reductions nationally for drug and alcohol services, however, we are confident that our service is delivering effective, evidence based interventions in our communities to those who need it most.
“This is partly due to the integration of adult and young people’s substance misuse service provision, meaning that financial reductions haven’t reduced capacity or quality of delivery.
“Drug-related deaths are not specific to Wigan Borough and they are extremely complex by nature, however, we work closely with health partners and our drug and alcohol rehabilitation provider Addaction to offer a number of services across the borough.”