Seaside resorts have the highest rates of death from heroin and morphine, according to figures released from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Of the 14 places with the highest such death rates, 10 are coastal communities. The rate in Blackpool, which topped the list, is twice as high as anywhere else in England and Wales.
As well as Blackpool, Hastings, Neath Port Talbot, Portsmouth, Bournemouth, Thanet, Swansea, Barrow-in-Furness, Gosport and Scarborough all have more than 4.5 heroin and opiate deaths per 100,000 people. This compares with the national average of 1.7 in England and 2.3 in Wales.
Commenting on the figures, Public Health England (PHE) has suggested a link between areas of social deprivation and drug misuse. Government figures show that nine out of the 10 most deprived neighbourhoods in England are seaside communities: a list also topped by Blackpool. Many seaside towns continue to struggle as foreign holidays increase in popularity. The British Hospitality Association has previously called for a Seaside Tsar to create coastal powerhouses and boost the appeal of run-down, dated and poverty-stricken resort towns.
Away from the coast, Burnley, Hyndburn, Blackburn and Reading had the highest death rates from heroin and morphine.
Low rates of employment and poor-quality housing are also associated with substance abuse.
According to the ONS report, the so-called Trainspotting generation, which became addicted to heroin in the 1980s and 90s, may explain the highest rate of death from drugs misuse in 2016. For the first time, the 40–49-year-old age group had more deaths than the group aged 30–39 years.
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