Cocaine deaths have increased sevenfold in a decade, with middle-class addicts fueling the crisis, new statistics suggest.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) released data on Wednesday showing that drug-related deaths in England and Wales hit a record high, fueled in part by a spike in cocaine use.
The researchers found that 4,859 deaths related to drug poisoning were recorded in 2021, a rate of 84.4 deaths per million people.
This marks the ninth consecutive annual increase, up 6.2% from the previous year. It is also the highest number since registrations began in 1993, more than a quarter of a century ago
‘Significant’ increase in drug-related deaths
The figures come when the government was accused by one of its own drug consultants of not caring about the growing number of heroin addicts dying from overdoses.
However, the ONS also found that 840 deaths from cocaine were recorded in 2021, 8.1% more than the previous year (777 deaths) and more than seven times higher than in 2011 (112 deaths).
In 2021, males accounted for 76.8% of cocaine deaths: 645 males versus 195 females. Cocaine has consistently been the second most used drug, after cannabis, in England and Wales for the past decade.
Experts said the general upward trend over the past decade has been driven primarily by deaths involving opiates. However, in the past 12 months there have also been “significant” increases in fatalities involving other substances such as cocaine and “street valium”.
Statisticians have said that cocaine’s rising death toll is likely a direct consequence of its increasing use, fueled by what experts say is the drug’s growing popularity among the middle classes.
Doctors from Priory, a UK mental health and addiction service, have suggested they have seen an increase in middle-class people and home workers seeking help with cocaine addiction.
A spokesperson said inquiries about cocaine addiction increased 58 percent from 12 months earlier.
‘More opportunities’ for taking drugs
Dr Niall Campbell, a consultant psychiatrist at Priory’s Roehampton Hospital in London, said the increase in work from home has given people more opportunities to take drugs such as cocaine.
“Without the need to go to the office or attend meetings in person, people prone to cocaine and other addictions find more opportunities to continue them,” he said.
“It was not easy for people to suddenly spend a lot of time at home and the effect on personal relationships was acute. Zoom and Teams are not a substitute for face-to-face contact. “
He told MailOnline: “Previously people used cocaine on weekends, for recreational purposes, but now it’s switched to daily use. As everything becomes cheaper and more available, it is used by more and more people. It has become. more normalized “.
Drug support charities have issued multiple warnings to heroin users of an ever-increasing risk following a string of reported deaths across the country. Batches of the Class A drug are suspected to have been mixed with synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.
Asked if anyone cared about the rising number of heroin-related deaths, Dr Emily Finch, a senior member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists who sits on the government advisory board on drug abuse, told Sky News: ” I think that’s one of the problems. I don’t think, in general, that the general population does that.
“I think a lot of people, and perhaps this is reflected in the government, don’t care much and that’s why they’ve allowed a treatment system to atrophy widely.”
A government spokesperson said, “Our historic drug strategy will help rebuild drug treatment and recovery services to better support people in recovery, as well as address the criminal supply chains that feed illegal drug markets.” .