Drug-related deaths rose to a record high in Bolton last year, stark new figures show.

Data from the Office for National Statistics shows there were 38 deaths related to drug poisoning registered in Bolton in 2021.

That was up from 24 the previous year, and the highest number since records began in 1993.

The figures cover drug abuse and dependence, fatal accidents, suicides and complications involving controlled and non-controlled drugs, prescription and over-the-counter medications.

Of the drug deaths recorded in Bolton, 29 – over three quarters - were due to misuse, meaning they involved illegal drugs, or were a result of drug abuse or dependence.

The Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust’s (GMMH) services cover Bolton. They say that patients they deal with are on the up, with approximately 1,400 people currently in treatment.

READ: Tragic death of 26-year-old after history of drug use

They say that it’s important to reduce the stigma associated with drug use in order to help tackle the issue.

Kate Hall, Head of Operations at GMMH said: “The continued increase in deaths, almost half of which involved opiates and a significant rise in cocaine deaths compared to a decade ago, endorse the urgent need to invest in treatment services.

"We know that most people struggling with addiction report experiencing early trauma and have associated mental health issues. They experience serious physical health problems and have difficulty accessing the preventative health care which is provided to others.

“The NHS Addiction Provider Alliance ‘Stigma Kills’ campaign is sadly reflected in these latest figures.

“We need to look beyond the addiction, see the person, hear their story, and break down the barriers to accessing help and support. This means challenging systems and services to work collaboratively to meet individual’s needs.”

Cllr Susan Baines, Bolton Council cabinet member for Wellbeing, says that tackling drug use is a statutory service that is provided, and it forms a substantial part of the council’s public health agenda.

“We take it very seriously and recognise that it is an issue,” she said. “We are maintaining a level of funding in the programme as we already have been.”

Greater Manchester Police also say they are focussed on tackling drugs-related issues.

Temporary Superintendent Daniel O’Neil of Bolton Police: “Officers in Bolton are absolutely committed to reducing crime and making the streets of Bolton a safer place, which includes safeguarding those affected by drug use and tackling the supply of illegal drugs.

“We are listening to our communities’ concerns and have a number of proactive operations on-going in the district to tackle drug related issues.

“We have introduced a new partnership hub in the Bolton where our partner agencies are all working in one place. This allows us to share information quicker and intervene with those affected by drug use and drug dealing – getting them the right support before they go down the route of offending to source a drug habit.”


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