Deaths from drug misuse are on the rise and have doubled in the past eight years in Sunderland, figures show.
Recent figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that in 2006 there were 28 deaths in Sunderland due to drug misuse, in 2009 there were 40 and as of 2014 there were 49.
The statistics obtained also show Sunderland to have the highest increase in drug misuse deaths in the whole of the North East.
Sunderland City Council Portfolio Holder for Public Health, Wellness and Culture, Councilor John Kelly said: “Drug misuse is a national issue, and death rates have increased over recent years at national level.
“We fund and commission substance misuse services and work closely with a range of partner organisations to address this at local level with available resources.
“An established programme of interventions, education and support is in place to help those people and families at risk to prevent avoidable deaths through drug misuse of any kind.
“We are committed to an approach which supports those who use drugs to recover from dependence and reduces the harm to people who misuse drugs, their families and communities. We work directly with our clients to engage them in the recovery process.”
Rosanna O’Connor, Director of Alcohol, Drugs and Tobacco at Public Health England, said: “The latest rise in deaths caused by heroin use is a great concern and highlights the need for further national and local action. The increased global availability and purity of heroin is clearly having an impact in England.
“Fewer people are using heroin but the harms are increasingly concentrated among older, more vulnerable users and those not recently in touch with their local drug treatment services. Reassuringly, overall drug use has also declined and treatment services have helped many people to recover, but these figures show the need for an enhanced effort.
“We need to ensure the most vulnerable users can access drug treatment services, where we know they have the best chance of recovery. Public Health England will continue to support local authorities in delivering effective recovery services for all those that need them.”
Hope UK is a national drug, alcohol and tobacco awareness charity that trains people to educate others within their community about drug awareness.
Marolin Watson, Business Manager for Hope UK, said: “We believe that education is the key to helping people, and particularly young people avoid drug and alcohol-related harm.
“Our voluntary Drug Educators are trained to deliver age-appropriate drug and alcohol education in a variety of contexts, including schools and youth groups.”
Mentor is another national charity that strives for the prevention of drug misuse, especially among young people.
Michael O’Toole, Chief Executive of Mentor, said: “It is important to challenge misconceptions about how widespread drug use actually is and to support schools and families in the ongoing education of children and young people.
“We are strong believers in early intervention, as there are many economic, social and health benefits to intervening before a risk becomes a problem.
“We are piloting a number of programs that target the North of England – where substance use rates tend to be higher – in order to support future generations of resilient young people equipped to thrive in the modern world free from the harms of alcohol and drugs.”
For More information on drug misuse and for help contact Mentor on: 020 7553 9920