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Hospital admissions for drug-related mental and behavioural disorders fall by 12 per cent in a year

New NHS Digital data show that the hospital admissions2 for drug-related mental and behavioural disorders dropped by 12 per cent in a year, from 8,621 in 2015/16 to 7,545 in 2016/17. Admissions are still 12 per cent higher than 2006/07 when they totalled 6,743.

The report, Statistics on Drugs Misuse, England 2018, is an annual compendium of figures on drugs misuse in England, including hospital admissions, deaths and prevalence of drug use.

Hospital admissions

New figures from the Hospital Episode Statistics dataset in the report show that:

  • Around a third of patients (33 per cent) admitted for drug-related mental and behavioural disorders fell into the 25 to 34 age group, with the next largest being the 35 to 44 age group (26 per cent).
  • Around three in four (74 per cent) patients admitted were male
  • Liverpool local authority had the highest rate of admissions, with 54 per 100,000 population, followed by Hull (51 per 100,000 population)3

The report also shows that:

  • Hospital admissions with a primary diagnosis of poisoning by illicit drugs are highest in the 25 to 34 age group (3,232), followed by the 35 to 44 age group (2,958).


The number of deaths from drug misuse registered in England and Wales during 20164 shows that:

  • There were 2,593 registered deaths, a five per cent increase on 2015 (2,479 registered deaths) and at the highest level since comparable records began in 1993 (831 registered deaths)
  • Eighty per cent of these were due to accidental poisoning
  • Sixty-one per cent of the registered deaths were for people aged between 30 and 49.
  • Males made up 73 per cent of the registered deaths.


Prevalence5 data for adults covering England and Wales for 2016/17 shows that:

  • 8.5 per cent of adults aged 16 to 59 have taken an illicit drug in the year prior to the survey. This is similar to the 2015/16 figure (8.4 per cent) and significantly lower than in 2006/07 (10.1 per cent).
  • For 16 to 24 year olds, this figure rises to 19.2 per cent which again, is similar to last year (18.0 per cent) and significantly lower than a decade ago (24.2 per cent)
  • Cannabis was the most commonly used drug, with 6.6 per cent of adults aged 16 to 59 having taken it in the year prior to the survey.
  • New psychoactive substances (legal highs) were taken by 0.4 per cent of adults aged 16 to 59 and 1.2 per cent of adults aged between 16 and 24.

Prevalence data for children in England is also available in the report, which showed that cannabis was the most popular drug with 8 per cent of 11 to 15 year olds saying they had tried it in the year prior. This figure is derived from the 'smoking, drinking and drug use among young people, 2016' survey.


Read the full report

Statistics on drug misuse, England 2018

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1. NHS Digital is the national information and technology partner of the health and care system. Our team of information analysis, technology and project management experts create, deliver and manage the crucial digital systems, services, products and standards upon which health and care professionals depend. During the 2016/17 financial year, NHS Digital published 292 statistical reports. Our vision is to harness the power of information and technology to make health and care better.

2. These figures are for hospital admissions with a primary diagnosis of drug-related mental health or behavioural disorders.

3. Figures are not available for the local authority with the lowest rate of admissions. Rates based on between 1 and 5 admissions are suppressed in order to avoid individuals being identified, while other rates in the same region are also sometimes suppressed to avoid users being able to calculate the previously suppressed rates by reference to regional totals.

4. Figures on deaths are drawn from the Office of National Statistics' publication: Deaths Related to Drug Poisoning in England and Wales statistical bulletin.

5. The main source of data for drug use among adults is the Drug misuse: findings from the 2016 to 2017 Crime Survey for England and Wales 2nd edition published by the Home Office. This is an annual survey covering the prevalence and trends of illicit drug use among 16 to 59 year olds including separate analysis on young adults (16 to 24).

6. For media enquiries please contact or telephone 0300 30 33 888.