Female drug-related deaths on the rise

FEMALE drug-related deaths have been increasing since 2009 whereas male figures have decreased since then, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The number of male deaths from drugs, (illegal and legal) had normally remained around double the figure of females since 1993 – with 1,706 fatalities compared to 891 females in 2012.

Overall, accidental poisoning from drug misuse was the cause of most deaths. More interestingly, male figures for this category rose to almost three times the figure recorded in 1993, from 391-1,104 fatalities and women’s figures more than doubled.

Intentional self-poisoning was around half the total accidental figure for males with 525 deaths. For women though, intentional and accidental were approximately on par.

Deaths from mental and behavioural disorders influenced by drugs have significantly decreased for both men and women since its highest period around the beginning of the new century. The last two years have been the lowest recorded figures for this category since 1993 for both men and women.

Mentally ill males who have died from drug misuse were recorded at their highest in 2001 with 760 deaths. That figure has plummeted to astonishingly more than 10 times that figure in 2012 – with only 72 deaths.

Paul Hayes, chief executive for The National Treatment Agency for substance misuse, (NTA), said in a report:
“The best way to prevent deaths from drug misuse is to not use drugs in the first place. For those that do misuse drugs, the best way to prevent death is to support people to recover from addiction. The government’s new Drug Strategy is clear that the goal of all treatment is to enable people to overcome dependence and achieve sustainable recovery.”

Developments in neuroscience as well as increased awareness and support for the mentally disabled could have influenced the dive in these recorded deaths. Enhancements to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 in 2010 could have also affected these figures.

In 2010, the government also released the national drug strategy for England whose aim was for ‘reducing demand, restricting supply, building recovery: supporting people to live a drug-free life’.