A CHESHIRE-based rehab clinic is raising awareness about symptoms of substance abuse as stark new figures show drug-related deaths rose to a record high in the county last year.

Northwich-based private rehab clinic Delamere has shared potential signs and symptoms of someone suffering from heroin addiction to help spread awareness.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show 35 deaths related to drug poisoning were registered in Cheshire West and Chester in 2021 and 30 in Cheshire East.

That was up from 18 in Cheshire West and 14 in Cheshire East the previous year, and the highest numbers since records began more than a quarter of a century ago in 1993.

The ONS said the overall rising trend over the past decade has been driven primarily by deaths involving opiates.

Drug deaths related to heroin – a highly addictive opiate drug - were on the rise across the UK in 2021, 6.2 per cent higher than the rate in 2020. 

Rehab clinic Delamere shared potential signs and symptoms of heroin addiction.

These include switching in and out of drowsiness – as a large dose of heroin can put people in a dream-like state - and uncontrollable leg movement which can happen when a person is high but also when they are having withdrawal symptoms.

Other signs of heroin addiction include scratched skin, sudden behavioural changes, sudden extreme weight loss and being secretive.

Of the drug deaths recorded nationally last year, 3,060 (63 per cent) were due to misuse, meaning they involved illegal drugs, or were a result of drug abuse or dependence – including 22 in Cheshire West and 24 in Cheshire East.

Around half of the deaths registered nationally in 2021 will have occurred in previous years due to death registration delays, the ONS said.

Dr David Bremner, medical director for the substance abuse group at charity Turning Point, called for the Government to continue to invest in ‘life-saving’ health, housing and social care services.

He said: “If these were cancer deaths increasing at this rate, we would expect action at a certain pace that I believe we should expect the same for persons with addiction."

A UK Government spokesman said its drug strategy will help rebuild drug treatment services and tackle criminal supply chains.

He added: “This will help to prevent nearly 1,000 deaths, deliver over 54,500 new treatment places – a 19 per cent increase on current numbers – and support 24,000 more people into recovery from substance dependency.

“This funding is additional to the annual public health grant spend and builds on the £80 million put into treatment services in 2021 which worked to decrease drug-related deaths by helping services distribute more naloxone, which can help reverse opiate overdoses.”