North Rhine-Westphalia: sudden increase in drug deaths to almost 700 victims

The number of drug-related deaths in North Rhine-Westphalia has soared to a record high.

North Rhine-Westphalia: sudden increase in drug deaths to almost 700 victims

The number of drug-related deaths in North Rhine-Westphalia has soared to a record high. Almost 700 people died last year as a result of their drug use.

Düsseldorf (dpa / lnw) - The number of drug deaths in North Rhine-Westphalia has skyrocketed to a record high. Last year, 693 people died in connection with their drug use - after 401 drug deaths in the previous year, as the North Rhine-Westphalia Ministry of Health announced on Friday at the request of the SPD parliamentary group. This corresponds to an increase of 73 percent.

This is the highest level in over 20 years, the State Criminal Police Office said on request. The lowest number in NRW since 2000 was 182 drug-related deaths in 2015. From 2019 to 2020, the number of deaths jumped by 37 percent to 401 drug-related deaths. NRW Interior Minister Herbert Reul (CDU) was shocked.

According to dpa research, the number of 693 drug-related deaths is probably the record in the country's history. So far, this has been 514 drug deaths in 1992. In the 1970s and 1980s, it was less than 150 fatalities per year, even in years with a relatively high number of drug-related deaths.

There were increases in 2021 in practically all categories of intoxications with various drugs. Almost 71 percent of drug-related deaths were long-term users, according to the Health Ministry.

The ministry said the increase may have been partly caused by the corona pandemic. Low-threshold addiction help offers were only available to a limited extent at times.

The drug consumption rooms in NRW were also visited less often by the addicts: the number dropped significantly from 298,000 drug intakes in 2019 to 212,000 in 2021. However, the rooms offer good hygienic conditions and immediate help in emergencies.

The pandemic-related restriction of the available detoxification places could also have had an impact. The lower demand for addiction help or medical offers from the drug users themselves - due to fear of infection with the corona virus - could also have had a negative impact.

The rise in drug-related deaths has also coincided with a boom in illicit drug trafficking on the internet and the global mailing of drugs. However, it is not yet known whether this has also increased the number of addicts and whether there is a connection to the increased number of victims.

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