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Drug-related deaths in Harrogate "at its highest rate this century"

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6:46am 10th August 2018

The number of drug-related deaths in Harrogate is at its highest rate this century.

A total of 23 people died because of substance abuse between 2015 and 2017, data from the Office of National Statistics revealed.

It means the number of deaths has nearly doubled from 2012 to 2014 when 12 people died.

The figures cover misuse of both legal and illegal drugs.

Across the UK, 2017 saw the number of deaths reach its highest ever figure.

Drugs charities have branded the situation a “national crisis” and a “preventable tragedy” and blamed it on the government’s approach to substance abuse.

Karen Tyrell, executive director and spokesperson for Addaction said:

“These statistics are devastating. It’s such needless waste of life and a tragedy for so many families and loved ones. We have so much more to do. The truth is that most drug-related deaths are preventable.

“People who use opioids (like heroin) often have cumulative physical and mental health problems. Most of them have had very difficult, often traumatic lives and we’re letting them down if we don’t give them the best care that we can.

“Nobody wakes up in the morning and decides to become dependent on drugs. Everyone deserves help, and we know that every person can recover with the right support.”

Scarborough’s figures are the highest in North Yorkshire and account for nearly 40 per cent of all drug-related deaths in the county between 2015 and 2017.

Harrogate’s rate was second at 23 per cent, ahead of Hambleton on 12 per cent and Selby on 11 per cent.

Nationally, heroin was the biggest killer, ahead of antidepressants and cocaine.

The number of deaths from new psychoactive substances, formerly known as legal highs, halved from 2016 to 2017, with 61 deaths linked to the drugs.

By Carl Gavaghan, Local Democracy Reporter

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