DRUG-induced mental health problems were behind more than 450 hospital admissions in Swindon last year.

The number has doubled in four years. Swindon had the third highest rate in the south west of hospital admissions where patients have been diagnosed with drug-induced mental health problems. Excessive use of drugs like cannabis have been linked by doctors to anxiety and depression.

Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust (AWP) said they had seen a steady rise in the numbers approaching their services with health issues related to drugs.

Nationally, the numbers of older people ending up in hospital with drug-linked mental health problems has spiralled in the past decade. Among those aged 65-74, it has risen by over 500 per cent between 2006/07 and 2016/17. However, the number of OAP patients remains much smaller than those under 45. Last year, 59,576 people between 16 and 44 were admitted to hospital with a drug related mental health disorder.

The figures, published by NHS Digital, show:

n The number of people in Swindon admitted to hospital diagnosed with a drug-induced mental health or behavioural disorder has risen from 206 in 2013/14 to 454 in 2016/17.

n There are almost three times as many men admitted to hospital with drug-induced problems as women – with 331 men ending up in hospital in 2016/17 compared to 123 women.

n The numbers admitted to hospital over a suspected drug overdose has remained largely stable. In 2016/17, drug poisoning was behind 84 hospital admissions in Swindon. However, last year there were 24 more women than men hospitalised over overdosing on drugs.

Newlands Anning, AWP’s operations lead for the Swindon locality, said that their nurses and doctors were seeing a growing number of health problems linked to drugs.

The Swindon NHS chief said: “The NHS figures reflect an increase in activity that we’ve noticed in Swindon, in particular at our place of safety service. There has also been an impact at the Great Western Hospital for our mental health liaison service.

“The kind of things that we are seeing is people with acute anxiety and depression. We’re noticing higher levels of people with mental health issues who have taken drugs in the past.”