17 May 2024

Recent statistics from the Office of National Statistics paint a concerning picture regarding the rise of Fentanyl-related deaths and poisonings in the UK. Most know the drug to be a concern in the US but many are now fearing that the opioid is making an impact in the UK.

Lester Morse, Director of Rehabs UK, states “Fentanyl hasn’t become a major issue in the UK yet but by looking at other synthetic drugs and the huge effect its having in the US, it is only a matter of time before the issues continue in the UK.”

Disclaimer: The following information is provided for educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Consult a qualified healthcare professional such as a Treatment Advisor at Rehabs UK for personalised guidance.

Fentanyl-related Deaths in the UK

According to a report by the office of National Statistics, opioid-related deaths in the UK have seen a concerning increase in recent years. Expert analysis suggests various factors contributing to this rise, including the availability of the drug on the illicit market, its potency, and its potential for overdose. Government and charity programmes aimed at raising public awareness and tackling the issue have been implemented, but more efforts are needed to curb this alarming trend.

Key Data Points:

  • In 2021, England and Wales reported 58 deaths in which fentanyl featured on the death certificate, a death rate of less than 0.1 per 100,000 people.
  • Just under half of all drug-poisoning deaths registered in 2022 involved an opiate (46.1%; 2,261 deaths), while 857 deaths involved cocaine, which is 2.0% more than 2021 and represents the 11th consecutive annual rise.

Fentanyl-related Poisoning in the UK

Similarly, cases of opioid-related poisoning have surged, reflecting the broader trend of rising Fentanyl use in the UK. Nearly half of all drug poisonings in England and Wales involved opiates (naturally derived opioids) in 2021, while opioids and opiates are the predominant cause of drug misuse deaths in Scotland, implicated in 82 per cent of all deaths

Office for National Statistics (ONS), point to the drug's prevalence in counterfeit pills and street drugs, leading to unintentional poisonings among unsuspecting users.

“Addressing this issue requires a multifaceted approach, including enhanced monitoring of drug supplies, targeted education campaigns, and accessible support services for those affected.” Lester Morse, Director of Rehabs UK states.

Key Data Points:

  • According to the New Statesman, ‘Britain is vulnerable to the introduction of powerful novel opioids, with new products entering the market all the time – some recently containing fentanyl. Another group of powerful synthetic opioids, nitazene, has been detected across all four UK nations.
  • Fentanyl is incredibly powerful – up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine.
  • Lester Morse, Director of Rehabs UK believes ‘it is only a matter of time before the issue comes over to England.’

The UK’s History with Fentanyl

Fentanyl's presence in the UK traces back to its initial use in medical settings, primarily as a powerful pain reliever. However, concerns over its addictive potential and high risk of overdose prompted medical professionals to explore alternative medications. Despite these efforts, abuse persisted, leading to tragic high-profile deaths such as rappers Mac Miller and lil peep as well as singers such as Prince and prompting government action to ban an increasing number of synthetic opioids. Notably, Fentanyl is known by various names on the streets, such as China white, China girl and Apache highlighting the challenges in combating its illicit use.

What is being done to prevent Fentanyl-related Death and Poisoning in the UK?

Efforts to prevent Fentanyl-related deaths and poisoning in the UK encompass a range of strategies, from law enforcement crackdowns on illicit drug trafficking to public health initiatives aimed at harm reduction and addiction treatment. Government agencies collaborate with healthcare providers and community organisations to disseminate information, distribute naloxone kits for overdose reversal, and offer rehabilitation services to those struggling with Fentanyl addiction.

According to the ACMD review, Across England, naloxone provision is funded via local authority commissioning and delivered by third sector and NHS providers. Cuts of 37% in funding to drug and alcohol treatment budgets have resulted in a reduction in the size of commissioned drug treatment contracts, which may have impacted the budget available to deliver naloxone.

Supporting those with Fentanyl Addiction

If you or someone you know is battling Fentanyl addiction, seeking help from medical professionals or specialised addiction treatment centres like Rehabs UK is crucial. Don't hesitate to reach out for support and guidance on the path to recovery.

Contact Rehabs UK today for confidential assistance with Fentanyl addiction recovery.

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