Tragedy of West Norfolk drug death toll revealed by new report
The human toll of drug use has been revealed after new figures showed a significant increase in deaths in West Norfolk.
Forty people in the borough have died from drug-related poisoning in the last three years, up more than a third on the preceding period.
And the borough’s total accounts for almost one in five of all drug poisoning deaths recorded in Norfolk as a whole.
Although the increase is broadly in line with national trends, campaigners have used the data to plead for greater efforts to support people with addiction issues.
The figures, from the Office for National Statistics shows the number of drug poisoning deaths rose from 26 between 2012 and 2014 to 40 between 2015 and 2017.
Around two-thirds of the cases were classed as misuse, meaning they related either to the use of illegal substances, abuse or addiction.
There were 203 deaths across Norfolk as a whole over the same period, compared with 169 in the three years from 2012 to 2014.
Campaigners argue that the figures show more still needs to be done to make sure users, who can often have underlying physical and mental health problems, get the support they need.
Karen Tyrell, executive director of the charity Addaction, said: “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.”
The responsibility for providing local drug treatment services is held by Norfolk County Council.
A spokesman said: "“All deaths in people who are known to misuse drugs are monitored and will be reported as drug related deaths. Currently, we are only notified of those that are engaged with Public Health commissioned drug and alcohol services, however more work is going on to understand more about the other deaths.
“If you are concerned about your own or someone else’s drug misuse please contact Change, Grow, Live (CGL) in Kings Lynn, at 33 Railway Road, the direct contact number is 01553 767778 or the single point of contact number 01603 514096 is available.”
Last year, the authority appointed CGL to provide what it said would be a new integrated alcohol and drug behaviour change service for adults in the county.
The service replaced those previously provided by the Norfolk Recovery Partnership.
At the time the contract, which came into effect in April, was announced, the county council said it would “bring significant benefits to Norfolk residents in terms of increased quality of life and better health”.