DRUG-RELATED deaths in Swindon have fallen the last three years, bucking the national trend.

Charities have said that most deaths from substance abuse are avoidable and warned that drug abusers need better care to help deal with underlying health conditions.

New figures released by the Office for National Statistics provide local data for drug-related deaths in three-year periods.

Between 2015 and 2017, 34 drug poisoning fatalities were registered in Swindon – a rate of 4.9 in every 100,000 people. Of those deaths, 22 were men and 12 were women.

This is lower than figures for in 2012 to2014 which saw 44 drug-related deaths in Swindon.

ONS health analysis statistician Ellie Osborn said: “The figures published show that the level of drug poisoning deaths in 2017 remained stable.

“However, despite deaths from most opiates declining or remaining steady, deaths from fentanyl continued to rise, as did cocaine deaths, which increased for the sixth consecutive year.”

Of the 34 drug poisoning deaths in Swindon between 2015 and 2017, half were registered as being down to misuse, meaning they involved illegal drugs or were as a result of drug abuse or dependence.

Across England and Wales, 3,756 deaths involving legal and illegal drugs were recorded in 2017.

That represents a small increase on 2016 and is the highest total since comparable records began in 1993.

A spokesperson for national charity Turning Point which has an office based in Swindon, said:

“The fact that the number of drug related deaths has decreased is fantastic news and testament to the hard work of the team here in Swindon.

“The most effective way to prevent drug related deaths is to get people into treatment which is why we do everything we can to let people know that help is available.

“We also give out kits to all our service users, families and carers, which can be used to save someone’s life in the case of a heroin overdose.

"If you are worried about your own or someone else’s drug use please call Turning Point on 01793 328150.”

Information on the type of drugs recorded as being a factor in deaths is not released for the local authority.

Figures for the whole of England and Wales show that heroin and morphine were the most common drugs in drug-related deaths.

They were registered in 1,164 deaths in 2017.

The next biggest killer were antidepressants. They occurred in 484 deaths and following this is cocaine with 432 related deaths, nearly four times the level previously found in 2011.