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Drug deaths: Cocaine contributes to record number

The number of drug poisoning deaths reached record levels in England and Wales last year, official data shows.

Deaths involving cocaine rose by 16% to 371, while overall there were 3,744 deaths from legal and illegal drugs.

The Office for National Statistics said it was the highest number of deaths since comparable records began in 1993.

The data showed that those in their 40s have overtaken people in their 30s as being the age group with the highest mortality rate from drug misuse.

Of the deaths, more than two-thirds were due to misuse of drugs, and two-thirds of the deaths were men – in line with previous years.

Within England, the North East had the highest mortality rate from drug misuse in 2016 for the fourth year running (77.4 deaths per million), while the East Midlands had the lowest (29.1 deaths per million).

The mortality rate from drug misuse in Wales rose from 58.3 deaths per million population in 2015 to 66.9 in 2016.

Deaths in England have remained comparable between 2015 and 2016.

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