Death toll of Wigan drink and drug addicts 36% higher than expected

More addicts have died while in treatment in Wigan than expected over the last three years.

Friday, 26th November 2021, 12:30 pm

New figures released by Public Health England show that in the borough, 75 substance abusers in contact with drug and alcohol treatment services lost their lives between April 2018 and March 2021, a time period that includes the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic.

The 75 observed deaths in drug and alcohol treatment were 36 per cent more than “expected” by the local authority according to analysis of the figures by addiction treatment experts UKAT.

Wigan’s public health data shows that they expected 55 fatalities from adults age 18-plus in contact with treatment services in this time period.

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Experts say reduced access to help during the pandemic is likely to have contributed to a rise in fatalities among addicts

Nuno Albuquerque, head of treatment at the UK Addiction Treatment Group (UKAT), said: “Unfortunately more people in treatment for their addiction died in Wigan than they should have. This is likely down to unprecedented changes to support during the 2020 Coronavirus crisis.

“We know first-hand that treatment facilities closed their doors to addicts during the pandemic when in fact, critical care intervention should have remained open and accessible. Addicts were forced into enduring home detoxification- an incredibly dangerous process that should only happen in a professionally supported, safe environment. Some addicts who have supervised- for a reason- opioid substitute consumption were given take-home doses instead.

“Addicts weren’t getting access to blood tests so treatment for liver disease and other blood borne viruses were left untreated.

“We believe that quite simply, it cannot be a coincidence that as support and treatment services closed during this time, more addicts lost their lives. These people asked for help; they were trying to save their own lives but died instead.”

Wigan has a bigger alcohol addiction problem than many areas

All of the eight residential treatment facilities run by the UK Addiction Treatment Group remained open during the entire coronavirus pandemic and safely admitted addicts for treatment every day.

Round the clock confidential help and support with drug and alcohol addiction can be found at

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