Posted on: 12 August, 2021
The latest data from the ONS has revealed that Sandwell has the lowest rate of drug related deaths in the West Midlands. It is also within the ten lowest rates in the entire country.
In a remarkable reversal of the well-known link between economic deprivation and drug deaths, Sandwell has a rate 2.2 deaths per 100,000 population. This is less than half of the national and West Midlands death rates.
However, there is no room for complacency as local and national drug deaths rates rise. To counter this worrying trend, Sandwell will be investing an extra £400,000 in local drug services this year. This includes expanding the provision of ‘naloxone’, a life-saving medicine which is used to reverse the effects of a heroin overdose. Referral routes will also be expanded, making it easier than ever for someone to get the help they need.
Once people are in drug treatment they can quickly show improvements. One example is Annie (not her real name), who is a 39 year old with a history of using crack cocaine, heroin and alcohol. Due to her drug and alcohol use, she lost her job, her friends and her relationship with her partner. She had three children who were placed in the care of Annie’s parents when she became a victim of drug related crime which was incredibly traumatic. This incident resulted in her engaging with Sandwell Council’s Drug Treatment Service Provider, Cranstoun. Annie entered into opiate substitute therapy and has been supported to make changes to her life. She was supported to move homes to protect her, and her children have returned. She is now drug free and about to leave treatment.
Dr Lisa McNally, Sandwell’s Director of Public Health said “Drug misuse destroys lives and ends lives. It also has a devastating effect on families and communities. I obviously welcome the fact that we have a very low rate of drug misuse in Sandwell, but we have to keep pushing it down further. The stakes are too high for us to become complacent.”
Cllr Suzanne Hartwell, Cabinet Member for Healthy Lives said “It’s great to see Sandwell has one of the lowest rates of drug deaths in the country. Our public health response to this issue is clearly having a positive effect. We must keep working hard to alleviate the harm of drug misuse to individuals, families and our community.”
Find out about our Sandwell drug and alcohol service.