The number of people who died while accessing addiction treatment in Bolton has risen, new figures show.

Figures from the Department of Health and Social Care figures show there were 92 deaths among adults undergoing drug addiction treatment in Bolton between April 2019 and March 2022.

This was up from 57 who died during the three years prior, from April 2016 to March 2019.

It was also up from 90 deaths recorded between 2018 and 2021.

The most recent estimates of opiate and crack cocaine use in local areas show there were thought to be 2,240 people using the drugs in Bolton in 2016-17.

That was the equivalent of 12.5 users per 10,000 people in the area – well above the national rate of 8.9 per 10,000.

Cllr Susan Baines, executive cabinet member for health, and wellbeing at the council, said: “These figures show an increase in adult deaths amongst those accessing drug addiction treatment in Bolton.

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“However, the rise in these figures is replicated across Greater Manchester and England as a whole.

“Many factors need to be considered when looking at such data and often there are a multiplexity of associated factors to be considered.

“The pandemic, which we are just recovering from, prevented some people from accessing some of the wider support services at that time, and people who experience addiction often struggle with other physical and mental health challenges as well as social issues which might have added to their circumstances or decline in health.

“It is so very, very, tragic when lives are lost in this way, and it is incumbent on us to ensure people in need have the support and professional help to recover and move forward positively with their lives.

“The public health teams at the council will continue to work with national, regional, and local substance addiction policy leads and services to ensure we address this rise.”

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The Transform Drug Policy Foundation said that in order to save lives, more must be done to encourage drug users to enter and remain in treatment.

Across England, 7,429 people died while in contact with treatment services in the three years to March 2022 – a 26 per cent increase on the 5,889 deaths recorded in the previous three-year period.

Martin Powell, head of partnerships at the Transform Drug Policy Foundation, said the rise in deaths is likely due in part to Covid-19 preventing face to face treatment.

Mr Powell added: "But against a backdrop of record drug deaths, we should be very concerned that over a third of people are dropping out of treatment, and just 60 per cent of people using heroin are in treatment at all.

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"To save lives we must offer services that retain people in treatment, and appeal to those we aren't reaching – including heroin prescribing clinics, overdose prevention centres and crack pipe distribution."

In response, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Drug and alcohol addiction can have a tragic impact on people’s health, families, and lives.

“We are committed to tackling the root causes of substance misuse with our 10-year Drugs Strategy."

They add the department has invested £95m of new funding to rebuild drug and alcohol misuse treatment centres and services in England this year and is also funding specialist alcohol care teams in hospitals with the highest need.