Liverpool's conference to debate record drug deaths

Professionals have an awful lot of work to do to stem the tide of drug related deaths, a conference in Liverpool will hear this week.

Britain is facing a record number of drugs tragedies – approaching 5,000 in 2022 – almost three times the number of fatalities on the UK’s roads.

Tomorrow (Thurs, 25 April) the LJMU Public Health Institute hosts 900 experts from academia and across the health and care sector to discuss the latest developments, trends and initiatives in reducing drug ‘poisoning’ deaths.

The North West and North East currently have the highest death rates in the country with higher opioid and crack use and outcomes which reflects wider health and social inequalities. The emergence of nitazenes and other new synthetic opioids in the UK has the potential to increase incidences of drug related death further, and this will be one of the focuses of the event, alongside the impact of increased socialisation and the risks of people using drugs alone.

LJMU’s Public Health Institute provides drug related deaths surveillance to 24 local authorities across England supporting them in line with the government’s drug strategy From Harm to Hope.

Harry Sumnall, Professor of Substance Use in the PHI, said: “We have the highest number of deaths on record.”

Prof Sumnall recently outlined the causes of the trend in an article in The Conversation, which include another – the 11th consecutive – rise in cocaine deaths (857) aided by wider supply, purity, affordability and availability.

He also described how deaths in women are rising as those for men fall. Professor Sumnall said concerted, sustainable action was needed: "Whatever the outcome of the election, unless there is a clear commitment to long-term investment in responses to drug use, new records will be set in drug-related deaths."

Speakers at the conference on Thursday include:

  • Professor Catriona Matheson, University of Stirling, & Independent Review Consultant in Substance Related Deaths: Reducing Drug Related Deaths: Learning from the Scottish Drug Death Taskforce
  • Jon Shorrock, Programme Manager OHID, Department of Health & Social Care England: National Update on Drug Related Deaths: Data and Responses
  • Dr Anne Campbell, Queen's University Belfast: A multi-disciplinary approach to Drug Related Deaths in Northern Ireland
  • Professor Rick Lines, Public Health Wales: Drug Related Deaths in Wales: Current Data and Emerging Concerns
  • Professor Harry Sumnall, LJMU, The role of stigma in drug and alcohol deaths

Full details of the conference can be found here:


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