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Hospital admissions for poisoning by illicit drugs up by more than 50 per cent in a decade

There were 14,280(2) hospital admissions(3) with a primary diagnosis of poisoning by illicit drugs in 2014/15 - a rise of 57 per cent since 2004-05(4).

*HSCIC must be quoted as the source of these figures

*Regional figures are available

The figures, released today by the Health and Social Care Information Centre, show that 45 per cent (6,490) of these admissions related to patients aged between 16 and 34. The North West was the region with the highest rate of admissions with a primary diagnosis of poisoning by illicit drugs per 100,000 population5 for both males and females at 43 and 39 respectively. London had the lowest rates at 14 for males and 11 for females.

Statistics on Drug Misuse, England 2016 also shows that in 2014/15 there were 74,800 hospital admissions with a primary or secondary diagnosis of drug-related mental health and behavioural disorders. This is 9 per cent more than in 2013/14, when there were 68,600 admissions.

Liverpool was the local authority with the highest rate of these admissions, with 444 per 100,000 population. The lowest rate was Wokingham with 32 per 100,000 population.

Deaths related to misuse of illicit drugs6 in England and Wales are at their highest level since comparable records began in 1993. In 2014, there were 2,250 deaths related to the misuse of illicit drugs. This was an increase of 15 per cent on 2013 (1,960) and 44 per cent higher than in 2004 (1,570). Men accounted for 72 per cent of these deaths (1,620) and women, 28 per cent (624).

The Statistics on Drug Misuse, England 2016 report presents a range of information on drug use by adults and children drawn from a variety of sources7. Some of this is new information whilst some has been published previously.

The report also shows:

  • In 2014, there were 1,720 deaths due to accidental poisoning by drugs, medicaments and biological substances8.
  • In 2014, 15 per cent of secondary school pupils9, aged 11 to 15, had ever taken drugs - 10 per cent had taken drugs in the last year and 6 per cent had taken drugs in the last month before being surveyed.
  • Cannabis is the drug that 11 to 15 year olds were more likely to have taken. In 2014, 6.7 per cent of pupils reported taking cannabis in the last year.
  • In 2015/16 around 1 in 12 (8.4 per cent) of adults aged 16 to 59 reported taking an illicit drug in the last year10. This level of drug use was similar to the 2014/15 survey (8.6 per cent), but is significantly lower than a decade ago (10.5 per cent in the 2005/06 survey).

Responsible Statistician, Paul Niblett said: "Today's report gives insight into the misuse of drugs in society, and shines a light on the prevalence of drug use among different age groups.

"Reporting changes in rates of drug-related hospital admissions and misuse of drugs in adults provides valuable information for primary and secondary healthcare services, policy makers and drug rehabilitation professionals."

You can find the full report at:


Notes to editors

1. The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) was established on April 1 2013 as an Executive Non Departmental Public Body (ENDPB). It is England's trusted data source, delivering high quality information and IT systems to drive better patient services, care and outcomes. Its work includes publishing more than 260 statistical publications annually; providing a range of specialist data services; managing informatics projects and programmes and developing and assuring national systems against appropriate contractual, clinical safety and information standards.

2. Percentages based on hospital admissions and deaths are shown to nearest percent . Percentages based on survey data are shown as they are presented in the source publications. Figures over 1,000 have been rounded to the nearest 10. Percentages are based on a nationally representative sample of school pupils and adults that took part in the surveys and not total number of adults and school pupils in the population.

3. Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) is a data warehouse containing details of all admissions to NHS hospitals in England. It includes private patients treated in NHS hospitals, patients who were resident outside of England and care delivered by treatment centres (including those in the independent sector) funded by the NHS. The HES data presented in this report are for inpatients only, so do not reflect all hospital activity. This should be considered when interpreting the data as practice may vary over time and between regions. In particular, practices vary between hospitals as to whether some procedures are carried out or recorded in outpatient or inpatient settings and any changes in recording and clinical practice can affect the trends in this report.

4. From 2012/13 diagnoses relating to ICD 10 code 'poisoning by synthetic narcotics not classified as other codes' have been excluded for methodological reasons. Therefore, comparisons to years prior to 2012/13 should be made with caution.

5. A new methodology was used this year to calculate admissions per 100,000 head of population. Details of this can be found at:

6. The data source is the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Deaths were included where the underlying cause was due to drug poisoning and where a drug was controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 was mentioned on the death certificate.

7. Sources for the report include: Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) 2014/15.Deaths data from Office for National Statistics (ONS), 2004 to 2014. National Drug Treatment Monitoring System (NDTMS), 2014/15. Crime Survey for England and Wales, 2014/15. European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction - European drug report - trends and developments, 2016. Smoking, drinking and drug use among young people, England, 2014. What About YOUth? Survey 2014. Substance Misuse among Young People report 2014/15.

8. The term accidental poisoning by drugs, medicaments and biological substances is taken from the section name in the International Classification of Diseases, tenth revision (which is used to code mortality data). It includes a broad spectrum of substances, including legal and illegal drugs, prescription-type drugs (either prescribed to the individual or obtained by other means) and over-the-counter medications. The substances most commonly involved in drug deaths are opiates (such as heroin, morphine and methadone), benzodiazepines (like diazepam), antidepressants and paracetamol.

9. Information is provided from Smoking, Drinking and Drug use among Young People in England (SDD) which surveys pupils in secondary schools across England to provide national estimates and information on the smoking, drinking and drug use behaviours of young people aged 11 - 15.

10. The main source of data for drug use among adults is the ONS Crime Survey for England and Wales, a continuous survey covering drug use among 16 to 59 year olds. Prevalence and trends of drug use among 16 to 59 year olds, and a separate analysis on young adults (16 to 24), are released today by the Home Office in "Drug misuse: findings from the 2015 to 2016 Crime Survey for England and Wales".

11. For media enquires please contact or telephone 0300 30 33 888.

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