Pandemic sees fall in drug and alcohol deaths in Wigan

More than 50 drug and alcohol deaths were recorded by the coroner covering the Wigan area last year, new figures show.

Friday, 4th June 2021, 12:30 pm

Despite a drop in the number locally, experts have warned that the coronavirus pandemic is exacerbating a national substance abuse crisis with coroner figures showing the most drug and alcohol related deaths across England and Wales in seven years.

The coroner for Manchester West, which covers Bolton, Salford and Wigan found that the deaths of 58 people – 13 women and 45 men – were related to drugs or alcohol in 2020. That is a drop from the 75 deaths recorded in 2019, inquest conclusions published by the Ministry of Justice show.

The chief executive of Alcohol Change UK said there was still work to be done to understand the stark rise in deaths across England and Wales.

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Inquests for people from Wigan are often held at Bolton Coroner's Court

Dr Richard Piper suggested the pandemic could have contributed to people being more likely to consume alcohol, but less likely to seek help for problem drinking. He added: “What is clear is that the crisis is deepening and millions of people are suffering as a result. If the UK is to recover from the pandemic, the Government must act.

“We need to have a comprehensive, strategic set of policies from the Government to tackle alcohol harm, including an alcohol care team in every NHS hospital that needs one, and sustainable funding for treatment services so that every one of us who is struggling has access to high-quality support when we need it.”

Dr Laura Garius, policy lead at drugs charity Release, said drug-related deaths had been rising at an unprecedented rate for years. She said: “The current drug death crisis represents a failure of UK drug policy to protect some of the most vulnerable people in society, as well as a failure to invest in harm reduction, and treatment, that we know can save lives.”

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