Record number of drug-related mental health admissions

There were 82,135 hospital admissions with a primary or secondary diagnosis of drug-related mental and behavioural disorders in 2016-17, according to figures from NHS Digital, up from 81,904 the previous year. The total is nearly double the 38,170 figure from a decade ago, although NHS Digital says this increase will be ‘partly due to improvements in recording of secondary diagnoses’.

The number of admissions with a primary diagnosis of drug-related mental and behavioural disorders, however, was down by 12 per cent in 2016-17, to 7,545, although that figure is still 12 per cent higher than a decade ago.

The figures are from the ‘hospital episode statistics dataset’ section of NHS Digital’s annual Statistics on drugs misuse report, which is a compendium of new and previously published data. Around a third of people admitted for drug-related mental and behavioural disorders were in the 25 to 34 age group, while just over a quarter were aged 35 to 44. Three quarters of those admitted were male, with the highest admission rates in Liverpool and Hull. The highest admission rates for a primary diagnosis of poisoning by illicit drugs were also found in the 25 to 34 age range, the report states.

Karen Tyrell: Harm reduction must be taken seriously

‘People with both mental health and substance misuse issues can find it extremely difficult to access mental health services,’ said Addaction spokesperson Karen Tyrell. ‘All too frequently mental health services refuse treatment because a person is not abstinent, or has not been abstinent for a sufficient length of time. This is despite government guidance and best practice. Getting people connected with community services at an earlier stage could prevent hospital admissions.

‘It’s positive that the numbers have come down over the past year, but we know that there is still a long way to go before they could be said to be acceptable. Harm reduction must be taken seriously and services such as needle exchanges must be adequately provided across the country.’


Statistics on drugs misuse, England 2018 at