May 21, 2024

South West News

South West News from Gloucestershire to Cornwall

Small reduction in drug-related deaths in Cornwall but concerns remain over new trends

There has been a slight reduction in the number of drug-related deaths in Cornwall however concerns remain over the use of illicit tranquilisers.

In 2021, the number of drug-related deaths recorded in Cornwall decreased to 38 following a record high of 40 in 2020.

Each year Safer Cornwall’s Drug and Alcohol Action Team carry out a review into each drug-related death in the county to identify any learning to help prevent future deaths.

The review found that 12 deaths (31.6% of the total number of drug-related deaths and an increase of 9.1% from 2020) involved illicit benzodiazepine (sedative) drugs.

These are new illegally produced benzodiazepine drugs or other benzodiazepine drugs which are not available lawfully in the UK.

There has been a small reduction in drug deaths in Cornwall

There is no quality control for illegally produced drugs and therefore it is much harder to know what these drugs are actually made from and how strong they are. Many of these drugs had not been seen in Cornwall prior to 2020.

The annual review also found that cocaine and heroin featured in more deaths, compared with 2020.

Cocaine featured in 22 deaths (an increase of 20.4% from 2020). Deaths involving heroin increased by 12.4% to 18 deaths in 2021 compared with 14 deaths in 2020.

Sid Willett, Drug Related Death Prevention lead at Cornwall Council, said: “Last year our review highlighted that illicit benzodiazepine drugs are becoming an increasing problem in Cornwall.

“This year we have again seen that they have featured in more drug-related deaths. We are looking at how we can reduce the harm caused by these drugs and to help drug users recognise the dangers of these substances, which can be fatal, particularly when combined with alcohol and other drugs.

“We urge anyone who needs help to tackle drug issues to reach out for support.”

Carol Mould, portfolio holder for Neighbourhoods at Cornwall Council, said: “While it is encouraging to see a small reduction in the number of drug-related deaths in Cornwall, this remains a high figure and we recognise the pain caused to family and friends who have lost a loved one due to substance use.

“Drug problems rarely exist in isolation. They often develop in response to the experience of multiple childhood trauma and, without help, end up impacting upon and being linked to homelessness, poor mental health, domestic abuse and crime.

“We will continue to work with our partners to support drug users to get the help they need.”

With You is the local drug service providing free, confidential support to people experiencing issues with drugs, alcohol or mental health. If you would like advice for yourself or someone you know, call 0333 200 0325 or go to the With You website.

Press release issued on November 10, 2022