A RECORD number of drug-related deaths were recorded in Barnsley last year, new figures have revealed.

Office for National Statistic figures show there were 48 drug poisoning deaths in Barnsley in 2022 - up from 29 the year before and the highest on record.

Only 12 people died of poisoning a decade ago - a 300 per cent increase over the last ten years.

The figures cover drug abuse and dependence, fatal accidents, suicides and complications involving controlled and non-controlled drugs, prescription and over-the-counter medications.

Across England and Wales, there were 4,907 drug-related deaths in 2022 the highest level since records began in 1993.

Clare Taylor, chief operating officer at social care provider Turning Point, said the high level of deaths is a tragedy.

She added that the government investment has allowed the addiction sector to increase treatment places and grow the workforce, but added it will take time before world class drug and alcohol treatment services are built.

“Drug related deaths are preventable, and the right treatment and support for anyone at risk, in any community, remains the key protective factor,” she said.

“If the government continues to invest in building up skills and capacity in the sector, we can turn the tide.”

Of the total drug-related deaths last year, 3,127 deaths were due to misuse, meaning they involved illegal drugs, or were a result of drug abuse or dependence.

In Barnsley, 19 of the deaths were identified as drug misuse.

Some 2,261 deaths last year involved an opiate, such as heroin or morphine, while 857 deaths involved cocaine, with the number rising for the 11th consecutive year.

Earlier this year, Barnsley was awarded £3.3m in government funding to tackle drug and alcohol addiction over the next two years.

But this equates to just £13 per head, prompting local addiction treatment providers UKAT - which operates the residential rehab Linwood House in the town - to say it was ‘little more than a smoke and mirrors PR stunt’.

Lee Fernandes, lead therapist at UKAT, told the Chronicle: “Quite simply, rising drug related deaths in Barnsley is not acceptable.

“Especially when facilities like Linwood House are there to ultimately save lives.

“The issue is that the government just isn’t encouraging local councils to invest in intervention-style treatment services like residential rehabilitation because it is likely to cost them more money than community treatment options.

“But for hardcore drug addicts with decades of use under their belt, this is the only way to save them and it shouldn’t even be questioned.”

The ONS figures also show the age standardised mortality rate - which accounts for age and population size - stood at 16.3 drug-related deaths per 100,000 people in Barnsley between 2020 and 2022.

It was more than double the overall rate for England, of 8.1 deaths per 100,000 people.