In the media recently there have been reports that while overall drug use has been falling the incidents of bad outcomes due to drug use, including death, have been rising. Drugscope, the national Charity concluded from a report issued by the Office for National Statistics:
“Deaths related to drug poisoning in England and Wales, 2013” that the data from deaths registered in 2013 shows a sharp rise in deaths as a consequence of drug misuse in England and Wales. In 2013, 1,957 drug misuse deaths were registered, up 20 per cent on the figure for 2012 (1,636)”.
A father who supplied his teenage daughter with the drug MDMA and delayed getting medical treatment when she became ill has been jailed for five years and four months for killing her. Jason Wilkes, 45, pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the opening day of his trial at Maidstone Crown Court.
Chloe Wilkes, 17, died after falling ill at their home in Tunbridge Way in Ashford, Kent, on 27 July.
This emphasises that for all the justified concern about illegal highs the traditional misused drugs have not lost their capacity to kill and wreak havoc in families as well as general society.
The ONS report detailed Heroin/morphine as the substance most commonly involved in drug poisoning deaths.765 deaths involved heroin/morphine in 2013, a rise of 32 per cent from 579 in 2012 and deaths due to the synthetic opiate tramadol had risen to an all time high of 220.
In Wales there were there were 9,127 referrals for alcohol and drug misuse between January and March last year – up 1,827 on the same period in 2012-13 as reported by Wales Online www.walesonline.co.uk/news/local-news/referrals-alcohol-drug-misuse-treatment-7674414
The strengths of drugs sold on our streets is rising. Cannabis is becoming a very dangerous drug because cannabis is being sold with significantly increased concentrations of the active THC. Not all users experience the bad effects but some lives are being ruined.
Surely it is possible to identify the people at risk from drug misuse better than we do now? This last month I took part in a national screening programme to detect early stages of bowel cancer using a test that can be conducted easily at home. Drug misuse can be detected from easily conducted chemical tests. Chronic Alcohol misuse can be detected from a simply applied Hair Drug Test. In Industry, there is a rise in the use of “Wellness” programmes, which promote measures to encourage employees to make healthier choices in the life in and outside of work. Maybe a little bit more preventative drug testing leading to a targeted advice for those at risk is worth considering.