DRUG deaths in Dudley have reached an all time high, according to new government figures.

And experts fear things in the area will only get worse, with the pandemic sparking more people to turn to drugs as a coping mechanism.

Fifty-eight people died of drug poisoning in the Dudley borough in 2017-19 - the highest number since records began in 1993

Dudley’s deaths were part of a big surge across the West Midlands, up 18% in the last six years.

The deaths involve legal and illegal drugs. Deaths from legal drugs like painkillers and antidepressants make up about 4 in every ten drugs death in the UK.

Across the West Midlands 1,087 people, mainly men, died from drug poisoning in 2017-19.

The figures from the Office of National Statistics show the latest 58 deaths in Dudley were two up on the previous period, but a huge rise from the 32 deaths of ten years ago.

In neighbouring Sandwell drug deaths have shot up 42% in the last six years, while in Birmingham they are up 33%. In Worcestershire the rise is 10%, in Staffordshire its 22%.

Drug addiction experts at UKAT- who analysed the ONS figures – are urging councils across the West Midlands to invest in drug and alcohol treatment services to avoid more loss of life;

Nuno Albuquerque, Group Treatment Lead at UKAT said: “These ONS figures are saddening but unsurprising. The situation is only getting worse for those most vulnerable in society.

“We must remember that these aren't just numbers; they're someone's mother, father, child or friend who has lost their lives to drugs and we can't stress enough the value of investing in the treatment of addiction.

“Our fear is that these figures could tip off the scale unless Councils here take proactive, preventative action today in order to save lives tomorrow.”

A free 24/7 live chat support service for drug abuse can be found at www.ukat.co.uk/drugs/v58/