DRUG deaths in Worcestershire have risen 10% in recent years and across the West Midlands they are now at record levels.

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.

Across North Worcestershire 39 people died from legal or illegal drugs in the 2017-19 period.

The breakdown by district council area shows 15 death, Wyre Forest, 12 in Redditch and 11 in Bromsgrove.

In Bromsgrove’s case there has been a stead rise in the number of deaths since ten years ago, when there were just six.

Redditch’s figures are slightly down on the 15 of ten years ago, and Wyre Forest is slightly up.

But the latest Wyre Forest figures are well below the worst period, when 23 people died in 2014-16.

While each area has had its up and downs, the overall trend is a continuous rise.

Across the West Midlands region drug deaths hit an all time high of 1,087, 18% higher than six years ago.

In Wychavon deaths have risen 62% from 13 to 21 in six years.

Other big rises in the region were: Shropshire (66%), Staffordshire (22%), Birmingham (33%)

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/