Cocaine-related hospital admissions on the rise in Wales

The number of cocaine-related hospital admissions has increased by 114% in the five years to 2017-18.

This increase has been observed in all age groups from young people to older aged adults.

Josie Smith, Head of Public Health Wales’ Substance Misuse Programme said:

"This is a substantial rise – but not one that is isolated to Wales, similar patterns related to cocaine use are emerging UK and Europe-wide.

“It is likely that increased availability and purity levels of cocaine, in addition to use of alcohol and other drugs alongside cocaine, are contributing to the increase in hospital admissions and treatment assessments.   

“With this in mind, substance misuse services in Wales will need to place even greater focus on early identification, harm reduction and treatment strategies related to stimulant use”.

Other findings from the report indicate that the number of people admitted to hospital for alcohol-specific conditions is 2.4 times higher than admissions for illicit drug use.  Alcohol deaths have increased by 7% in 2017 from the previous year, with 540 deaths, representing the highest number of alcohol deaths per year since 2008.

Data mining Wales: Annual profile for substance misuse 2017-18 is produced and published by the Health Protection Division of Public Health Wales. It provides an important barometer for the current climate of substance misuse. The data are used to help identify where interventions are best directed to protect the population that currently use, or are at risk of misusing illicit substances and alcohol.

Evidence is drawn from a number of sources, including information from the Patient Episode Database Wales (PEDW), the Harm Reduction Database (HRD) Wales, Office for National Statistics (ONS) and data published by the Department for Education (DfE).