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Opioid prescribing hotspots revealed



New data shows that opioid prescribing in certain UK “hotspots” is more than double that of the national average.

The 2019/20 data, analysed for the Global Recovery Initiatives Foundation, shows that prescriptions of these addictive painkillers are moving in a worrying reverse from previous declining rates, despite an increase in government regulation.

At a national level there was a 1% increase in opioid prescribing during the COVID-19 lockdown period (March to June 2020 vs the same period in 2019) across the UK.

Some areas saw a more dramatic shift – in Greater London and Nottinghamshire for example, the lockdown period resulted in a 4% increase in opioid prescriptions.

This has prompted experts to speculate that COVID-19 lockdown measures could increase overall prescription and general drug use, particularly in prescribing hotspots.

New data from a UK poll also shows 23% of people either started taking or increased substance use (such as prescription drugs like as opioids, alcohol and illegal drugs such as cocaine) due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The poll which surveyed 2,081 people across the UK highlights that managing stress (48%), having reduced access to usual support networks (27%) and loneliness due to isolation (25%) since the outbreak are the main drivers for this shift in behaviour.

Jan Brown, CEO, Global Recovery Initiatives Foundation, said: “As the areas in the North of England which already have a high prescribing rates go into further lockdown, we are concerned that this will lead to further increase in prescribing rates due to lack of access to pain management services. Over the years we have seen the number of drug-related deaths rise and the last thing we want is for more people to be unnecessarily reliant on these drugs in the long-term.

“In this growing epidemic, we need to increase education, encourage dialogue, and support addiction and recovery services, especially evidence-based services, that could mean the difference between life and death for those who struggle with substance use.”


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