Drug-related deaths in York rise by 60% in five years

Drugs paraphernalia. Photograph: Matthew T Rader / Unsplash

Sixty-five people have died from drug-related poisoning in York in the past two years – a rise of more than 60 per cent over the past five years.

And the city’s budget for tackling drug and alcohol addiction has been cut by half a million pounds.

Councillor Michael Pavlovic claims the rising number of people dying from drugs is a direct consequence of Government cuts.

Cllr Pavlovic, who led a review into substance misuse in the city, said:

  • Sadly councils’ public health budgets and substance misuse budgets in particular have been heavily hit by Government cuts to local authorities in recent years.

    What we are seeing in the increase in drug-related deaths is the impact of those cuts, also demonstrating that the £500,000 of cuts over three years to York’s substance misuse budget was absolutely the wrong decision to make by the previous administration.

    As well as the tragedy of losing the individuals themselves, a lack of support services impacts on their families and wider society.

    When compared nationally, York’s continued poor performance on drug-related deaths acts as stark reminder of the need for statutory support services to be adequately funded. I do hope this will act as a wake up call.

Highest number in the county

Cllr Michael Pavlovic
Government figures are recorded every two years and reveal that between 2001 and 2003, 29 people in York died from drug poisoning. That number rose in every recording period since – to 65 deaths between 2016 and 2018.

York saw the highest number of drug-related deaths in North Yorkshire.

Organisation UK Addiction Treatment Group has also appealed for more money to be put into helping people with drug and alcohol problems.

Eytan Alexander, from the organisation, said the figures were “saddening but unsurprising,” adding: “We urge councils across Yorkshire and the Humber to invest in effective drug and alcohol services next year to avoid more loss of life.

“It cannot be coincidence that as councils here slash drug and alcohol treatment budgets by £8 million over six years, the highest number of people on record lose their lives to drugs.”

The council has been approached for a comment.