'Drug-related deaths in England and Wales are the highest they have been since records began more than a quarter of a century ago, official figures show.
There were 4,359 deaths from drug poisoning recorded in England and Wales in 2018 – the highest number since records began in 1993, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
The official body said it was also the highest annual increase since records began, rising 16% (603 deaths) from 2017.
Deaths involving cocaine doubled over the three years to 2018, reaching their highest ever level.
So what do the figures show?
- A total of 2,917 deaths were from illicit drugs in 2018 - a rise of 17%.
- More than half of the total drug deaths (2,208) involved an opiate - a drug derived from or related to opium.
- Deaths from legal highs have also doubled to 125 in the space of a year.
- MDMA deaths rose from 56 to 92.
- Cocaine-induced deaths have also doubled over three years to 2018, reaching their highest ever levels.
- Around two-thirds of drug poisoning deaths were from drug misuse (2,917) - continuing a trend seen over the last decade.
- Males accounted for more than two-thirds of drug poisonings (2,984, compared with 1,375 females).
- Most of the recorded deaths were due to accidental poisoning (80% of males and 67% of females), and then intentional self-poisoning (16% of males and 30% of females).
- The remaining deaths were caused by mental and behavioural disorders as a result of drug use or assault involving drugs.
The figures also include accidents and suicides which involved drugs, as well as complications such as deep vein thrombosis or septicaemia from intravenous drug use.
Almost half the deaths recorded last year will have happened in years previous, due to the time it can take for an inquest to be completed.
Statisticians believe that many deaths which occurred in 2018 will be missing from these figures.'
Read more: Drug-related deaths in England and Wales reach record high