According to the latest figures issued by the Office for National Statistics, the number of drug misuse deaths recorded in Wales in 2018 has been the highest ever.
In 2018, a total of 208 deaths resulted from drug misuse in Wales. This represents an increase of 23 deaths or 12.4 per cent from 2017. Wales had the second-highest rate of drug misuse deaths after North East England region in 2018.
Opioids, including heroin, were involved in 79 per cent of drug deaths in 2018, whereas benzodiazepines and cocaine were involved in 24 per cent and 15 per cent of deaths, respectively. The increase in drug deaths among Welsh men and women was 13 and 12 per cent, respectively. Drug deaths increased across all age groups, except the 20-39 years age group. The rise was most pronounced in the 40-49 years age group.
The ABMU Health Board area accounted for the highest number of drug deaths (just over 30 per cent) in Wales; however, it was less than the number recorded in the previous year. The Cwm Taf, Cardiff & Vale and Aneurin Bevan University Health Board areas witnessed an increase in the number of drug deaths.
Josie Smith, Head of Substance Misuse in Public Health Wales, said: "It is increasingly well documented that drug markets have changed over the last few years, both in the availability and range of drugs, and that this trend is increasing. One of the most distressing impacts of these changes is the rise in premature deaths. It’s really vital that we recognise that these figures relate to real people and the impact on their families, partners and friends may be devastating."