Latest statistics show improvements in waiting times for people seeking treatment for drug and alcohol misuse, and a fall in the number of drug-related deaths in Wales for the second year running.
The statistics - Substance Misuse in Wales 2012-13 – have been published alongside the Welsh Government’s Substance Misuse Annual Report 2013 today (Thursday 31 October).
They show a continued downward trend in the number of deaths related to drug misuse, from 152 in 2010, to 137 in 2011 and 131 in 2012. Approximately 215 lives have potentially been saved since 2009 through the take home naloxone project. The scheme issues and trains drug users in the use of the drug naloxone which when applied can temporarily reverse the effects of an opiate drug overdose.
The Annual Report provides an update on achievements against the Welsh Government’s ten year substance misuse strategy “Working Together to Reduce Harm".
It shows that, alongside an increase in support available for those with drug or alcohol misuse issues, there has been a concerted effort to identify and deal with new psychoactive drugs such as mephedrone (“meow meow”).
Further achievements during 2012-13 include increased use of the Drug and Alcohol Helpline (DAN 24/7), a further 2,600 in the number of participants in the European Social Fund (ESF) peer mentoring scheme, and the development of guidance to identify and support veterans to access substance misuse services.
Health Minister Mark Drakeford welcomed the figures, saying:
“Welsh Government investment of £50m, alongside a ten year strategy for tackling substance misuse, is saving and improving lives.
“While I welcome the fall in the number of deaths of people in Wales due to drug misuse, every death is a tragedy for those involved. We know that the majority of these deaths are preventable so we will continue with our efforts to tackle misuse through our education and prevention initiatives.
“The figures show that alcohol misuse remains a real problem in Wales. I was disappointed with the UK Government’s failure to take action on minimum unit pricing and am determined to use all the policy levers available to us in Wales to tackle alcohol misuse, including legislation where there is scope to do so.”
Substance misuse 2012-13