There were twice as many drug-related deaths in Ipswich last year compared to the previous year, new figures have revealed.

The Office for National Statistics reported 15 deaths related to drug poisoning in Ipswich in 2019, up from seven the previous year.

Of those, 10 were related to drug misuse, meaning they involved illegal drugs or were as a result of drug abuse or dependence.

Drug poisoning deaths also include those from accidents, suicides and health complications which have arisen from drug use.

Clare Jakeman, senior operations manager at Turning Point’s Suffolk Recovery Network said drug-related deaths in the town are “preventable deaths”.

East Anglian Daily Times: Turning Point has 817 people in treatment in Ipswich, 67% of who are opiate users. Picture: LUCY TAYLORTurning Point has 817 people in treatment in Ipswich, 67% of who are opiate users. Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

She said: “Investment in high quality, free to access, evidence-based treatment services is critical, not only to protect communities from drug-related crime and anti-social behaviour but to save lives. This is even more vital in deprived communities as shown by the statistics.

“There is indisputable evidence that treatment saves lives. At present Turning Point has 817 people in treatment in Ipswich, 67% of who are opiate users. Although the ONS data relates to the period before the Covid-19 pandemic, our services have remained open throughout lockdown and we have worked hard to ensure that we continue to provide support while keeping our staff and services users safe.

“Nationally almost half of drug-related deaths are related to opiates. Long term heroin users with poor health, who frequently engage in poly-drug and alcohol use, are most at risk. For this group the best way to prevent drug-related deaths is to get people into treatment. Turning Point works hard to let people know we are here if they want help and we will fast track anyone identified as being particularly vulnerable and at high risk into treatment.

“Widescale distribution of naloxone kits which can be used to save someone’s life if they overdose from heroin or other opioids is also key to preventing deaths. At Turning Point Suffolk Recovery Service our workers are trained to dispense Naloxone and we also work closely with local housing services and community pharmacies services in order to make it even more accessible.”

In West Suffolk and Mid Suffolk the number of deaths relating to drugs have decreased – and in some cases they have nearly halved.

Nationally, males accounted for two-thirds of drug poisoning deaths in 2019 and two-thirds were related to drug misuse.

Ben Humberstone, deputy director of Health Analysis and Life Events at the ONS said: “The number of deaths due to drug poisoning registered in 2019 remains at a similar level to 2018.

“Almost half of all drug-related deaths involved opiates such as heroin and morphine. However, cocaine deaths rose for the eighth consecutive year to their highest level.”

If you are worried about your own or someone else’s drug or alcohol use you can call Turning Point on 0300 123 0872 or via email or visit their website.