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Wales drug deaths at record levels

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The number of deaths caused by drugs in Wales is at its highest level ever, new figures reveal.

A report by Public Health Wales shows that in the last ten years, the number of drugs deaths has increased by 78%.

Fourteen percent of drugs misuse deaths involve cocaine, amphetamine and MDMA and occur mainly among people in their 20s.

The report highlights that most drug deaths are likely through an increase in recreational use.

The number of deaths involving cocaine over the last five years has increased four-fold says Public Health Wales, with 31 deaths recorded in 2018 - 15% of all drug misuse deaths.

Josie Smith, Head of Substance Misuse in Public Health Wales, said: "drug markets have changed and expanded over the last few years, both in terms of availability, and range of drugs, and this trend is set to continue."

She added:

Given the scale of problem drug use in Wales, it is likely that every member of the population will know someone affected by, or experiencing difficulties with drugs be they illegal or prescribed, but may be unaware. Evidence is clear that seeking support early on can prevent escalation of problem use and dependency, however, fear of stigmatisation and social exclusion may be barriers to this. Consideration needs to be given to how this can be overcome in Wales to prevent future tragic deaths.

– Josie Smith, Head of Substance Misuse PHW