Drug-related deaths hit a record high in Oldham last year, stark new figures show.

Data from the Office for National Statistics show 32 deaths related to drug poisoning were registered in Oldham in 2021.

That was up from 11 the previous year, and the highest number since records began more than a quarter of a century ago in 1993.

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

Of the drug deaths recorded nationally last year, 3,060 (63 per cent) were due to misuse, meaning they involved illegal drugs, or were a result of drug abuse or dependence – including 14 in Oldham.

In response to the figures, an Oldham Council spokesperson said: “Every one of these deaths is a tragedy for the individuals and families involved, and we’re seeing similar rates of drug-related deaths per year right across Greater Manchester.

“This is why we’re continuing to work hard, with our partners, to tackle the harm that is caused by the misuse of drugs. This includes increasing access to naloxone, a drug that can be used to prevent fatal overdose from opiate drugs, such as heroin, and providing specialist treatment and support for residents and their families who are affected by drugs or alcohol addiction.

“Every time there is a death where drugs are involved, this incident is referred to our Drug Related Deaths panel, where we review the death to determine what lessons can be learned. This learning helps us in our ongoing efforts to combat drug misuse which sadly claims far too many lives each year.”

Dr David Bremner, medical director for the substance abuse group at charity Turning Point, has called for the Government to continue to invest in “life-saving” health, housing and social care services.

He said: “If these were cancer deaths increasing at this rate, we would expect action at a certain pace that I believe we should expect the same for persons with addiction."

A UK Government spokesman said its drug strategy will help rebuild drug treatment services and tackle criminal supply chains.

He added: “This will help to prevent nearly 1,000 deaths, deliver over 54,500 new treatment places – a 19 per cent increase on current numbers – and support 24,000 more people into recovery from substance dependency.

“This funding is additional to the annual public health grant spend and builds on the £80 million put into treatment services in 2021 which worked to decrease drug-related deaths by helping services distribute more naloxone, which can help reverse opiate overdoses.”

Information on support services can be found on the Oldham Council website.