Many years ago Brighton and Hove had the unenviable reputation for being the ‘drug death capital of Britain’. Over the years, through some great work between partners including the charity Change Grow Live (CGL, formerly CRI), the heath service, the City Council, and Brighton Housing Trust, the rate of drug related deaths reduced.
There is still a major drug problem in the city, and still far too many people are dying, but the rate has reduced considerably.
I am particularly proud of the contribution made by our Phase One Project (where with CGL we helped to pilot life-saving interventions such as Naloxone) and our Addiction Services (where large numbers of people put down the foundations for life-long abstinence and recovery).
Brighton has always had a higher rate of drug-related deaths than elsewhere in Sussex. But that is no longer the case.
Between 2013 and 2015, there were 7.5 drug-related deaths per 100,000 of the Brighton population. During the same period, Hastings had 9.1 such deaths per 100,000 of the population. I understand that this is the eighth highest rate in England and Wales.
Behind these tragic statistics are the lost lives of someone’s brother or sister, son or daughter, mother or father.
As with Brighton fifteen years ago, these statistics should ring alarms and be a call to arms for East Sussex County Council, the NHS, Hastings Borough Council, and others.
Unlike Brighton and Hove where we have two first rate residential rehab services, East Sussex have none. Perhaps these deaths will provide the catalyst to rectify this.
(This is the unedited version of my latest Brighton Argus column, first published on 14th September 2016)