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    Prof on UK Drug Deaths: 'Year on Year, We Just Keep Seeing that Number Going Up'

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    One of the world's leading economists has warned of a rise of "deaths of despair" in Britain, revealing that suicide, drug abuse and alcoholism are now claiming more middle-aged lives than heart disease. Ian Hamilton, Lecturer and Researcher at the University of York, explains what future holds for the United Kingdom amid these warnings.

    Sputnik: Sir Angus Deaton, a Nobel Prize-winning economist, has warned of a rise of "deaths of despair" in Britain. How does this warning compare to the lives of many living in 21st century Britain?

    Ian Hamilton: In some ways, it's not shocking unfortunately. For people involved, particularly in drug and alcohol research and mental health, this is something we've observed over the last decade. If we look at Scotland, England, Wales or Northern Ireland; we've seen a really significant increase in the number of people dying due to drug use. Year on year, we just keep seeing that number going up and it fits exactly with Angus Deaton talks about. These are people in their 40s predominantly and they're dying at an age that we would have expected really in Victorian times — so that's going back 100 years. Life expectancy under Queen Victoria was in the 40s, early 50s; and here we are in 2019 seeing a whole cohort and group of people dying at such a young age.

    Sputnik: This warning from one of Britain’s leading economists is one that should be sending a shock to our politicians around the country. If this warning is not treated with seriousness it deserves, what does the future hold for the UK?

    Ian Hamilton: Well, it looks bleak because we're going to see yet more people setting records in terms of the numbers that are dying this year. We've got data coming out over the summer, which unfortunately I think is going to show that yet again a new record has been set for the numbers of dying due to drugs, and overdoses and other problems like that. I think politicians are fully aware of what we can do to try and correct it. It's not complicated, it's not something we do an advantage to; we know how to end this record number of people dying from these type of problems.

    Sputnik: It seems there is a problem, in every town and city across the UK – what do actions and I think commitments do we need to be seeing from local authorities and the government to reduce this worrying trend?

    Ian Hamilton: I think politicians know what the solution to say is and it's been pointed out to them on more than one occasion but one of the ways that we can help reduce the number of people dying is to provide things like safe consumption rooms, sometimes called safer injecting facilities, into places and provided by local authorities where people who inject drugs can safely go and do that without trying to reduce the risk of infection overdose. We've seen quite a bit about this in the media in relation to Glasgow and Glasgow's plans to open a supervised injection facility, but it's been talked about for two or three years now and still nothing happened. What we need is political will and political endorsement of schemes like that to see those facilities funded and opened and opened urgently not just to keep talking about it, and saying that they're going to review the evidence. We know what works and it need to be implemented now.

    Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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