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A recent report by Cumbria County Council reveals some shocking statistics relating to harmful drug and alcohol use across the county. The Alcohol and Drug Misuse in Cumbria: Health Needs Assessment has found that whilst alcohol consumption in the county is higher than the national average, only 19% of people with alcohol dependency are receiving treatment for this. The report also confirmed that males aged 35-54 were most at risk of becoming alcohol dependent, with this group also having the greatest number of suicides, both in Cumbria and nationally. To try and reverse this, we were able to source a small amount of funding to prioritise the fast-tracking of males aged 30-60 in North Cumbria who are drinking in a harmful manner into a series of one-to-one sessions with one of our Recovery Coaches, as part of a suicide prevention programme and we are hoping to extend this throughout Cumbria.
The statistics for drug use, whilst slightly better, still cause us concern at CADAS. 60% of opiate users are receiving treatment, however drug related deaths in the county have continued to increase, with the highest number ever recorded in 2019. The number of deaths in clients receiving treatment for their harmful substance use has also increased. Worryingly, drug-related fatalities in the Barrow and Furness areas are nearly two and a half times the national average, at 11.1 per 100, 000 (the national average is 4.7 per 100, 000). Furthermore, 24% of clients receiving treatment for substance use in Cumbria report either misusing or being dependent on either prescription or over the counter medications, with prescriptions for opioids and gabapentinoids being higher than the national average across both Clinical Commissioning Groups operating health services in Cumbria.
The findings for drug and alcohol use amongst the county’s young people are equally concerning. Barrow and the Furness area has the highest number of hospital-related admissions for alcohol use amongst under 18s in the whole of England, with 62% of those admitted being female. Whilst the Health Needs Assessment found that young people in Cumbria are more likely to drink alcohol than take drugs, the number of hospital admissions relating to drug use amongst 15-24-year-olds across the county is still above the national average. Also concerning is the number of Child in Need Assessments in Cumbria as 28% of these identify alcohol or drugs as either a direct or indirect risk factor.