The number of deaths from drug-related causes remains “unacceptably high” in Wales, health chiefs have warned, as opioid deaths become more prevalent and a “large increase” in the number of deaths involving cocaine over the last three years Latest figures from Public Health Wales show that opioids contributed to more deaths in Wales in 2022/23 than any other substance.

There were 125 opioid deaths, 64 involving heroin or morphine and the remaining 61 deaths involved at least one other opioid such as methadone, codeine or tramadol.

However, more people than ever before are carrying naloxone, a life-saving drug that can reverse the effects of opioid poisoning.

Naloxone was used in 303 overdose events in Wales last year, helping to prevent many deaths.

The number of people carrying naloxone has increased year on year since it was first introduced in 2009.

In the year 2022-23, over 6,000 take home naloxone kits were provided.

The number of deaths in which cocaine was a contributing factor rose again for another year running.

In 2022, the presence of cocaine was recorded in 52 deaths, representing 26 per cent of all drug misuse deaths, the third highest after opioids and Benzodiazepines (30 per cent of drug deaths).

There has been a large increase in the number of deaths involving cocaine over the last three years.

There have also been more deaths where cocaine was the only substance listed and a decrease in the number of deaths where cocaine was used in combination with other substances.

Drug deaths as a result of multiple substances (poly drug use) remained high at 126 deaths.

Most drug misuse deaths occurred in those in the over 50-year age group, making up 25 per cent of all drug deaths in 2022.

There were 13 drug deaths in people under the age of 25.

Rates of drug misuse deaths have increased in Wales over the past two decades, and in 2022 stood at 71 per million population.

Drug misuse deaths were over five times higher amongst those living in the 20 per cent most deprived areas compared with the 20 per cent least deprived areas in Wales.

Rick Lines, Head of the Substance Misuse Programme, for Public Health Wales said “The number of deaths from drug-related causes remains unacceptably high in Wales.

“These deaths are tragic and preventable and take a toll on families and communities across the country.”