Low drug deaths in Sandwell

Sandwell has the lowest rate of drug-related deaths in the West Midlands, as it enters the 10 lowest rates in Great Britain.

The latest data from the ONS (Office for National Statistics) has revealed Sandwell has a rate of 2.2 drug-related deaths per 100,000 population.

This is less than half of the national and West Midlands drug-related death rates, at 3.0 and 5.5 per 100,000 respectively.

The council will be investing an extra £400,000 in local drug services this year following a successful application to Public Health England.

This includes expanding the provision of Naloxone, a life-saving medicine which is used to reverse the effects of a heroin overdose.

According to Sandwell council, more than 1,000 naloxone kits have been distributed locally over the last two years, including to members of the public. 50 of these have been used to prevent overdoses for family and loved ones.

One syringe can provide five doses of Naxolone.

It is hoped the medication, currently only available to frontline workers who work with drug prevention charities and other related agencies, such as homeless charities, will be available through a peer-to-peer distribution scheme.

Dr Lisa McNally, director of public health for Sandwell council said: “Drug misuse destroys lives and ends lives. It also has a devastating effect on families and communities.

“I obviously welcome the fact that we have a very low rate of drug misuse in Sandwell, but we have to keep pushing it down further. The stakes are too high for us to become complacent.”

One example of how naloxone has been used locally is with Simon Rose, who had to administer the drug to his younger brother.

“I’ve been clean since Christmas last year, and in November I had to give naxolone to my younger brother, who was overdosing.

“When he took it, none of the other drugs affected him. It was scary, but I just wanted to help him and make sure he is OK.”

Cllr Suzanne Hartwell, cabinet member for adults, social care and health, said: “Sandwell has one of the lowest rates of drug misuse deaths in the country. Our public health response to this issue is robust but we must keep working to alleviate the harm of drug misuse to individuals, families and our community.”

Cranstoun Sandwell provides free support to adults in Sandwell who would like to talk about alcohol or drugs. They can be contacted on 0121 553 1333 or https://www.cranstoun.org/services/substance-misuse/cranstoun-sandwell/

The service can also provide free naloxone kits and training. Anyone can use naloxone to save a life in an emergency – they don’t need to be a medical professional.

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