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Deaths related to drug poisoning highest since records began

The number of drug-related deaths recorded in England and Wales in 2020 was the highest since records began in 1993. Official data released today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that 4,561 deaths related to drug poisoning were registered in 2020 representing a 3.8% increase from the previous year and a 60% increase over the the last decade.

For every life lost to drugs, there will be many family members and friends having to come to terms with the loss of their loved one. The death of someone you love through drug use can be emotionally devastating, challenging and isolating. 

If you have lost someone as a result of their drug use, it is important to know that you are not alone. Please find below a range of information and support that is available:

  • Adfam and Peter Cartwright have filmed a series of video support sessions available on our website. This includes a video specifically on substance-related bereavement
  • is a website co-developed by Cruse Bereavement Care and Adfam with information and guidance for anyone who has lost a loved one through drugs or alcohol. 
  • Adfam's Journeys Resource provides advice to anyone suffering from a drug or alcohol related bereavement.
  • DrugFAM provide support to families that have been bereaved as a result of a loved one’s drug/alcohol misuse, phone 0300 888 3853 or visit for more information. 
  • The Compassionate Friends has a resource for parents bereaved through drug and alcohol use. This resource discusses the days immediately after a loss, the effect on the wider family and talking to non-adult children about loss.
  • Cruse Bereavement Care offers support and advice for people who have recently lost a loved one. Call their helpline on 0808 808 1677 or find out more at
  • The Good Grief Trust have supportive information on their website including a map of bereavement support organisations.
  • If you are a practitioner that works with families who are suffering the loss of a loved one through substance use, Adfam has recently created a CPD-accredited training course to support people bereaved through a substance-related death. To find out more visit our training calendar or email

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