Drug and alcohol misuse are complicated, cross-cutting issues that continue to present significant challenges both locally and nationally. Drug-related harm varies according to the different types of drugs being used and also the way a drug is used, particularly if it is used in combination with other substances. Drugs have a profound and negative effect on communities, families, individuals and society as a whole. 

Key findings - adults

  • The most up to date estimates (2016/17) indicated that there are 9.1 opiate and/or crack cocaine users (per 1,000 of the population aged 15-64) in the Lancashire-12 area, in line with the England estimate (8.9). Blackburn with Darwen (18.8) and Blackpool (23.5) both have significantly higher estimated rates of opiate and/or crack cocaine users. 
  • Figures for 2022 show in Lancashire-12, 5.3% of opiate users (18+ years) successfully completed drug treatment and did not re-present to treatment within six months, similar to the England rate (5%), the trend for Lancashire-12 shows there has been no significant change for this indicator. Blackburn with Darwen (3.8%) is similar to England and Blackpool (2.3%) is worse.
  • For non-opiate users 18+ (2022) Lancashire-12 has a significantly higher proportion of people completing treatment (36.6%) when compared with England (31.4%) though this is declining. Blackburn with Darwen is similar to England (26.3%) whilst in Blackpool the rate is worse than England (20%).
  • Deaths from drug misuse in Lancashire-12 (4.8 per 100,000 all ages) are similar to England (5.0). Blackpool (22.1) and Blackburn with Darwen (9.1) are significantly higher (2018-20). Blackpool has the worst rate of deaths from drug misuse in the country.
  • For the period 2020/21-2022/23 the Lancashire-12 area recorded 255 hospital admissions due to substance misuse among persons aged 15-24, giving a directly standardised rate per 100,000 of 50.6, better than the England average of 58.3. Blackpool (101.6) is significantly higher but no longer has the highest rate in the country. Blackburn with Darwen (87.2) is also significantly higher. 

Key findings - young people

Illicit drug use by young people continues to be one of the most significant public health challenges in England and many young people receiving specialist interventions for substance misuse have a range of vulnerabilities. These include young people not in education, employment or training (NEET), those in contact with the youth justice system, and those who experience domestic abuse and sexual exploitation. Alcohol and drug use amongst young persons is also associated with early sexual initiation and other risky sexual behaviours.

  • In 2014/15 1.1% of those aged 15 in Lancashire-12 stated they had taken drugs (excluding cannabis) in the last month. For Blackburn with Darwen this figure was also 1.1%, while in Blackpool the figure was 1.5%. All three authorities are similar to England (0.9%).
  • The National Drug Treatment Monitoring System monthly data indicate that in the period from March 2023 to February 2024 there were 346 young people (under 18) in treatment for substance misuse (includes alcohol). This figure has been increasing, +70 from the same period in 2022/23.
  • For Blackburn with Darwen there were 68 (+41), and in Blackpool the figure was 79 (+21).

For county and unitary data and further information please see below.

Page updated April-2024