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UK drug deaths hit record high

AAP logoAAP 9/09/2016 Hayden Smith

Drug-related deaths hit record levels in England and Wales last year, official figures have revealed.

Fatalities involving heroin and cocaine were both at their highest since comparable records started in 1993.

Statisticians pointed to increasing purity of substances as a possible factor behind the trend.

Overall, a record 3,674 drug poisoning deaths involving both legal and illegal substances were registered in 2015. Of these deaths 2,479, or two-thirds, involved illegal drugs only.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the mortality rate from drug misuse was the highest ever recorded, at 43.8 deaths per million population.

ONS researcher Vanessa Fearn said: "Deaths involving heroin and morphine have more than doubled since 2012, partly driven by a rise in heroin purity and availability over the last three years.

"Age is also a factor in the record levels of drug deaths, as heroin users are getting older and they often have other conditions, such as lung disease and hepatitis, that make them particularly vulnerable."

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