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Lincolnshire sees significant spike in substance abuse since Covid-19 pandemic

Grantham is one of four areas with a higher demand for drugs after figures reveal a significant spike in substance abuse in Lincolnshire following the pandemic.

Alongside Grantham, Lincoln, Boston and Skegness are areas with a concentrated demand for drugs.

This surge has prompted the Lincolnshire Health and Wellbeing Board to consider prioritising these issues in the Joint Local Health and Wellbeing Strategy (JLHWS), according to a report before the committee next Tuesday (June 13).

A teenager has been arrested after he was found with suspected crack cocaine and heroin. Picture: PA Archives/Paul Faith
A teenager has been arrested after he was found with suspected crack cocaine and heroin. Picture: PA Archives/Paul Faith

“During the pandemic, depression, anxiety, and social isolation all contributed to increases in alcohol consumption and substance misuse,” the report said.

“Lincolnshire’s treatment services have seen levels of dependency increase since Covid-19, with more users presenting with complex issues.”

The Safer Lincolnshire Partnership (SLP), which includes health, police, and local authority partners, has identified drugs and alcohol misuse as a strategic priority.

The Lincolnshire Health Intelligence Hub paints a stark picture of the local situation.

One in six adults reported binge drinking nationally, and one in five drinking more than the chief medical officer’s low-risk guidelines.

In Lincolnshire, an estimated 6,936 adults are alcohol dependent.

Furthermore, the death rate from drug misuse in Lincolnshire is significantly worse than the England average for both males and females.

Alcohol-related crime and anti-social behaviour have increased in adults, compared to pre-pandemic levels in Lincolnshire.

Many violent offences occur at night, particularly at weekends, in the early hours of the morning.

Alcohol is a factor in 44 per cent of night-time offences; drugs are a factor in 7 per cent of incidents.

In Lincolnshire, an estimated 1,400 people use crack cocaine; 3,241 use opiates; and 3,669 are opiate and/or crack users (OCU).

These figures from 2016/17 are relatively old, so an understanding of the current position, particularly regarding emerging drugs, is inexact.

The most recent drug market profile estimated 40,809 drug users aged 16 to 59 years old in Lincolnshire.

During 2020/21, there were 148 young people receiving treatment in Lincolnshire. The majority of referrals come from education or children and family Services.

Most children in contact with the specialist service use multiple substances; the four most common being cannabis (88 per cent), alcohol (37 per cent), cocaine (22 per cent) and ecstasy (31 per cent).

However, the number of children accessing specialist treatment in Lincolnshire has declined in recent years.

As Lincolnshire grapples with the aftermath of the pandemic, the potential inclusion of Drugs and Alcohol as a priority in the JLHWS could mark a significant step in addressing the rising tide of substance misuse in the community.

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