Burnley has some of the highest rates of unnecessary 'deaths of despair' by alcohol, drugs and suicide in England

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Burnley has some of the highest rates of unnecessary 'deaths of despair' in England, new figures show.

Some 45 deaths linked to alcohol, 42 caused by drugs and 25 suicides were reported from 2019 to 2021, according to University of Manchester researchers. This equates to 112 “deaths of despair”.

The country-wide study found death rates were higher in areas with more unemployment, white British ethnicity and people living alone.

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Lee Fernandes, lead therapist at the UK Addiction Treatment Group, called the UK a "nation of binge drinkers", which led to "unhealthy drinking habits across almost all generations".

Stock image of a woman looking distressed. Credit: Manuel_Faba/AdobeStock image of a woman looking distressed. Credit: Manuel_Faba/Adobe
Stock image of a woman looking distressed. Credit: Manuel_Faba/Adobe

He added alcohol's legal status gives it less "stigma" than other drugs, meaning medics may not take excess drinking as seriously.

"Until that misconception is addressed, more people will continue to die from alcohol.”

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Health providers like Turning Point are calling for more government investment into treatment services to help people access support sooner before it becomes harder to undo the damage caused by substance misuse.

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"This is why it’s so important that services are well-funded and have the resources to be able to access all areas."

A spokesperson for the Government’s Department for Health and Social Care said: "The Government is committed to narrowing the gap in healthy life expectancy by 2030 and to increasing healthy life expectancy by five years by 2035.

"Spending on mental health has increased by more than £4.5b. in cash terms since 2018-19.

"We’ve published a 10-year plan for tackling drug and alcohol-related harms and are investing an extra £532m. between 2022-23 to 2024-25.

"Our ambitious plans for a smoke-free generation will also save tens of thousands of lives."

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