THE NUMBER of deaths related to drug misuse in the Gwent local authorities is among the lowest in Wales, according to the latest figures.

Despite a significant rise in the number of deaths related to drug misuse throughout Wales between 2015-17 and 2016-18, Newport, Monmouthshire and Blaenau Gwent have all seen reductions, with Torfaen remaining the same.

Caerphilly was the only local authority to see a rise in the number of deaths related to drug misuse, rising from 15 to 19.

In total, 585 deaths were recorded in Wales related to drug misuse, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics.

All five of the Gwent authorities recorded less than the average, with Monmouthshire - which saw seven deaths - the lowest in Wales.

Newport recorded 13 deaths, with 10 recorded in Blaenau Gwent and 12 in Torfaen.


In comparison, Swansea had the highest number of deaths related to drug misuse (105), followed by Rhondda Cynon Taf (62) and Neath Port Talbot (57).

A Monmouthshire County Council spokeswoman said: “We welcome the news that numbers of drug-related deaths in Monmouthshire have fallen.

“We are constantly working with partners on a range of initiatives including prevention and enforcement where appropriate.”

A spokeswoman for Caerphilly County Borough Council said reducing the number of drug-related deaths was still a key priority in the borough.

"Whilst it is pleasing to see that the rate of deaths related to drug misuse per 100,000 people has fallen and that the figures for Caerphilly are within the lowest in Wales, reducing drug related deaths remains a key concern for us," she said. "The council works closely with a number of other partners, including the Police and Local Health Board, to continually develop new initiatives which aim to tackle the issues around substance misuse."

Overall in Wales, the number of deaths related to drug misuse has risen by 11.6 per cent from 2015-17 to 2016-18.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We are committed to reducing the avoidable harm caused by substance misuse.

“Despite continued and significant cuts to our budget by the UK Government we have increased our funding for substance misuse to almost £53m this year.

“We are also working with partners across Wales to ensure we do everything we can to reduce drug related deaths.”

Clive Wolfendale, CEO of CAIS, a charity which helps people who are having problems with addictions through its services such as residential treatment and rehabilitation, said more investment was needed to help support those who have been affected by drug misuse.

He said: “There is no simple or one-stop solution to tackling drug-related harm and I feel the issue overall has been neglected in recent years.

“Treatment services across the board are currently stretched beyond reasonable expectation. There are sadly many fewer residential rehab places available across the UK than was the case ten years ago.

“A resurgence of opiate use and the phenomenon of Spice and similar synthetic substances have compounded the challenge in recent years.

“It is a matter of huge regret that it has taken such a large number of deaths to highlight the challenge; I just hope the wake-up call has been heard.”

Josie Smith, head of substance misuse in Public Health Wales, said: “Given the scale of problem drug use in Wales, it is likely that every member of the population will know someone affected by or experiencing difficulties with drugs, be they illegal or prescribed, but may be unaware.

“Many people may hide drug use or dependency problems and not seek support from loved ones or from services designed to offer support.

“Every effort must be made to ensure that support is sought early on to prevent escalation of problem use and dependency without the fear of stigmatisation or social exclusion and with a recognition that drug use occurs amongst all age groups and all strata of society.”

The local authorities in Newport, Torfaen and Blaenau Gwent were all invited to comment, along with Gwent Police.