Cocaine deaths reach all-time high in England and Wales

Media playback is unsupported on your device                  Media caption Robert Fraser died just weeks after his 18th birthday

Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption Robert Fraser died just weeks after his 18th birthday

There were 75 deaths linked with fentanyl in England and Wales in 2017, up by almost a third from the 2016 statistic of 58.

Rates of drug misuse deaths in England were highest in the north.

This is the highest number since comparable records started in 1993, but similar to 2016 when there were 3,744 deaths related to drug poisoning. Users of the recreational drug have also warned it is easier to get than takeaway pizza.

Deaths caused by the drug fentanyl rose by almost 30% past year, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.

In April 2017, after a spate of deaths linked to fentanyl in northern England, Public Health England issued a warning to heroin users to be extra careful when using the drug, urging them to test a small amount first and not to take it alone.

Deaths from the opioid fentanyl rose by almost 30% in 2017, official government statistics show.

Fentanyl, originally developed in Belgium in the 1950s to aid cancer patients with their pain, is also partly behind a growing opioid crisis in the US.

Carfentanyl, often used as an elephant tranquilliser because of its strength, was mentioned in death certificates in 2017 for the first time. There were 432 deaths related to the drug in 2017, compared with 371 deaths in 2016. The drug, a unit of which can be up to 10,000 stronger than morphine, accounted for 27 deaths in 2017.

Past year heroin and morphine related deaths decreased for the first time since 2012, while cocaine deaths rose.

Fatalities from "legal-highs" also decreased, from 123 in 2016, to 61 in 2017, following the government ban on psychoactive substances.

Drug deaths have more than doubled in almost 10 years, new figures show.

ONS health analysis statistician Ellie Osborn said: 'The figures published today show that the level of drug poisoning deaths in 2017 remained stable.

"However, despite deaths from most opiates declining or remaining steady, deaths from fentanyl continued to rise in 2017 as did cocaine deaths which increased for the sixth consecutive year". The north-east had the highest rate of drugs deaths, with 83.2 deaths per 1 million people.

She said that for many, drug use is a "symptom" of past trauma, abuse or current problems in their lives, rather than "the core of the problem itself".

'Unfortunately, these people are dying in their forties and fifties, decades before the average person.

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