There were 2,917 people who died from an illicit drug overdose in England and Wales in 2018, a rise of 17% on the previous year.
The figure, announced in an Office for National Statistics (ONS) report, is the highest ever recorded. It was also the biggest annual increase in drug deaths since records began in 1993.
Most deaths were due to opiates such as heroin; however deaths where cocaine has been implicated have doubled in the past three years.
Male drug poisoning deaths have significantly increased from 89.6 per million males in 2017 to 105.4 in 2018; while the female rate increased for the ninth consecutive year to 47.5 per million females in 2018, the latest increase was not statistically comparable to 2017.
The figures in England and Wales are calculated slightly differently from Scotland, where recently it was announced that 1,187 people died of a drug overdose in 2018 – an increase of 27% on the previous year.
When accidental overdoses and suicides from medicinal drugs are included (which are not included in the Scottish figures) alongside illicit drug use, the English and Welsh toll rises to 4,359 people who have died due to drug poisoning in 2018.
The North East had the highest death rate in England, while London had the lowest.