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Drugs overview

DrugsIf you are worried about your, or someone else’s use of drugs, help is at hand. Drug and alcohol advice details the advice, help and support available. Drug use can cause serious physical and psychological harm to the individual as well as friends, families and communities of those affected.

Drug use is a significant cause of premature mortality (under 75 years) in England. Analysis in the Global Burden of Disease study (2019) shows that drug use disorders are now the third highest ranked cause of death in the 15 to 49 age group in England.

Drug related deaths account for 0.9% of deaths (18 deaths) in 2021 and 5.3% of years of life lost for those people under 75 years.

People will begin using drugs before they can fully understand or judge the immediate and long-term risks. Drugs can seem like they make you feel better, particularly when feeling stressed, tired, shy or lonely. However, they can make you feel worse through cravings, low mood and/or anxiety.

For many people with drug dependence, they don’t choose to use, it is a symptom of other problems such as mental ill health, abuse, grief, loss, and other trauma. This can also make it difficult to limit, reduce or stop using without help and sometimes even with help. Many people who have drug related issues are ashamed of their use or the associated problems. It can take courage to seek help; compassion and self-compassion are effective in improving engagement in services and outcomes. Judgement from others can put people off seeking support.

Please be aware that the webpage has been updated with the most recent figures, however this will not be reflected on the drug dashboard due to a delay in the most recent mid-year population estimate. Once the data has been released the dashboard will be updated.

More information can be found is the drugs dashboard below and in the resources section.

Drugs dashboard
Visualisation

Southampton’s risk factors

National figures suggest 1 in 11 adults aged 16 to 59 have taken a drug in the past year. Southampton has some particular characteristics which suggest drug use is more likely to be higher in the city than the England average. More information is available from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on drug use.

  • Southampton is a port city:
    • Drug use has shown to be higher in urban areas

  • Southampton has slightly more men than women living in the city:
    • Nationally 11.9% of men used a drug in the last 12 months compared to 6.9% of women

  • Southampton is a young city:
    • Nationally, 1 in 5, 16 to 24 year olds have taken a drug in the last year (also more likely to be frequent drug users e.g. taking any drug more than once a month, this is not a proxy measure for drug dependence)
  • Southampton has a higher proportion of private renters compared to England:
    • Private renters are more likely to have used drugs in the last year

  • Over 45% of Southampton’s population live in neighbourhoods within the 30% most deprived nationally, which is largely linked with low income:
    • Those in the lowest total household income bands were more likely to have taken any drug.

More information can be found is the drugs dashboard below and in the resources section.

Drugs dashboard
Visualisation

Hospital admissions related to drug use

Across England, hospital admission rates for drug-related mental and behavioural disorders, and for poisoning by drug use are highest amongst 25 to 34 year olds. Conversely, the 55 to 64 years old category has seen the largest increase in admissions for drug poisoning since 2012/13 (NHS England - hospital admissions).

For Southampton, substance use hospital admission rates are only available for young people aged 15 to 24. Hospital admission rates for this age group had been steadily rising at a similar rate both across England and Southampton over the last 10 years. From the period 2013/14 to 2015/16, Southampton’s rate has risen from 96.6 per 100,000 persons to 109.5 per 100,000 persons in 2015/16 to 2016/17 and has then decreased to 101.8 per 100,000 in 2018/19 to 2020/21 - statistically significantly higher than the England value of 81.2 per 100,000 persons.

More information can be found is the drugs dashboard below and in the resources section.

Drugs dashboard
Visualisation

Mortality and years of life lost

'Drug poisoning deaths' are one of the drug related deaths mortality indicators. 'Drug use deaths' are a subset as this only includes deaths from drugs that are classed as a 'controlled drug'.

For every 100,000 people in Southampton, 8.0 people died from drug poisoning between 2019 to 21, with men just over 3 times more likely to die than women. Fewer deaths occurred from drug use with a rate of 5.1 people per 100,000, although both figures have increased over the last 15 years. (Deaths related to drug poisoning).

Patterns in England show that younger adults (25 to 34 year olds) have the highest hospital admissions rates for drug-related mental and behavioural disorders by age band, however older adults (40 to 49 year olds) have the highest rate of deaths relating to drug use. In 2018, 81% (2,353) of deaths related to drug use were due to accidental poisoning by drugs, medicaments and biological substances (NHS England - Statistics on Drug Misuse, England).

In Southampton, drug related deaths accounted for 5.7% of all years of life lost (1,795 years) in 2019 to 21 (pooled). 

More information can be found is the drugs dashboard below and in the resources section.

Drugs dashboard
Visualisation

Care, treatment and policy

In Southampton, all individuals in contact with services were seen within three weeks to commence their first drug treatment in Southampton. It is estimated that almost half (44.7%) of opiate and/or crack cocaine users aged 18 and over were not in contact with drug treatment services in 2020/21, showing a high level of unmet need. The number of adults in treatment at specialist drug use services in Southampton equated to 5 in every 1,000 adults, higher when compared to the England average of 4 in 1,000 (2020/21). In 2021, of those non-opioid users accessing treatment, 41.5% successfully completed the program and did not re-present within 6 months. This is a steep increase from 28.9% in 2020 and now statistically significantly higher than England (34.3%). For opioid users, 5.6% successfully completed the program higher than England (5.0%).

Demographic profiling for England shows in 2021/22, 7 out of 10 people in treatment for drug use were male. The age of those entering treatment has been increasing, with the median age of those in treatment for problems with non-opiates currently at 31 years old, increasing to 43 for those in treatment for problems involving opiates.

Information from the National Drug Treatment Monitoring System (NDTMS), noted that the three most common referral sources in England for 2021/22 were self-referral (59%), which could have been following advice from a healthcare professional or were referred by family and friends. Second was referrals from health and social care services (18%), including referrals from hospitals, GPs, and social services. The third was from the criminal justice system (13%), the main sources were from arrest referral, prison, or probation. For both drugs and alcohol self-referral is the most common referral method, but likely due to the legality of alcohol, the last two methods are in reversed positions.

Concerningly, a five-fold increase in deaths of people across England in treatment has occurred since 2005/2006, bringing the current total to 3,742 deaths in 2021/22, equivalent to 1.3% of the total number of adults in treatment. People with opiate problems accounted for 65% (2 out of 3) deaths. More information on adult substance use treatment statistics are available from Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID).

More information can be found is the drugs dashboard below and in the resources section.

Drugs dashboard
Visualisation

Drug related crime

Police recorded drug offences (per 1,000 population) Southampton and iQuanta comparator CSP 2021/22

The connection between illicit drug use and crime is reflected in several different types of crime, these include: the illicit possession, use, or sale of controlled substances; crimes committed to get money to buy drugs; crimes committed whilst under the influence of drugs; and organised criminal activities to support the drug trade.

In 2022/23, there were 1,222 recorded drug offences in Southampton, a +19% increase compared to the previous year. Additionally, 1,224 drug affected crimes were recorded in Southampton during 2022/23, which is +7.6% higher than the previous year. The number of drug offences recorded by the police is heavily dependent on police activities and priorities, which change over time. Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary note that Southampton is the most impacted district of organised crime groups. For example, almost half of all cannabis farms identified by the force in 2022 were in Southampton.

The link between drug offences and deprivation is less clear than in previous years. In 2022/23, the drug offence rate was 3 times higher in the most deprived neighbourhoods in the city compared to the least deprived; having been 4.9 times higher in 2021/22. Additionally, the highest rate of drug offences was recorded in the second deprivation quintile (5.7 per 1,000 population) in 2022/23. Although, this is not significantly higher than the rate in the 20% most deprived neighbourhoods (5.2 per 1,000 population).

For more information on crime in Southampton, see the Safe City Strategic Assessment page.

Drugs dashboard
Visualisation

Resources

Drugs dashboard

The drugs dashboard presents a wide range of data regarding drugs, to provide intelligence to help drive strategic decision making, such as the Southampton Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Strategy. Analysis includes benchmarking against statistical neighbours and trends over time for all indicators included. Sub-city analysis is in development for certain indicators. Metadata is also included for all indicators. Data in this dashboard is compiled from a range of publicly available sources including Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID). Key themes are outlined below, navigate to a page to find out more information. Click the button at the bottom of the page for dashboard guidance.

Drugs dashboard
Visualisation

Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Strategy (TAD)

This data set is the key performance indicators for the Southampton City Council Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Strategy 2023-2028.

Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Strategy (TAD)
Report
Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Strategy (TAD) dashboard
Visualisation

Alcohol dashboard

This dashboard shows key alcohol related data for Southampton, England and other comparator cities. Data in this dashboard has been compiled from a range of publicly available sources including the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID).

Alcohol dashboard
Visualisation

Southampton Reducing Drug Harm Partnership

The Drugs Needs Assessment is a compilation of existing intelligence to inform local delivery plan of the Reducing Drug Harm Partnership for Southampton. The Reducing Drug Harm Partnership Scorecard is a data set of the key performance indicators for the Reducing Drug Harm Partnership

Southampton Reducing Drug Harm Partnership - Drugs Needs Assessment
Slide Set
pdf | 2.8 MB | 06.02.2023
Reducing Drug Harm Partnership Scorecard: May 2024
Report
pdf | 329.4 KB | 14.05.2024

Other data sources

Other data resources on drug use.

OHID - Adult substance misuse treatment statistics (2021/22)
Report
ONS - Drug misuse in England and Wales: year ending June 2022
Dataset
NHS England Digital - Statistics on Public Health
Dataset

Drug and alcohol advice

If you are worried about your, or someone else’s use of drugs, help is at hand. Please follow this link for details of the advice, help and support available

Drug and alcohol advice
Website

Last updated: 16 July 2024