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) indicate 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 2020 show in Lancashire-12, 5.7% of opiate users (18+ years) successfully completed drug treatment and did not re-present to treatment within six months, significantly better than England (4.7%), although the trend for Lancashire-12 shows this is decreasing and getting worse. Blackburn with Darwen (4.5%) and Blackpool (3.8%) are similar to England.
  • For non-opiate drug users (2020), Lancashire-12 (42.8%) has significantly more people completing drug treatment and not re-presenting within six months, compared to England (33.0%); again the trend for Lancashire-12 shows this is decreasing and getting worse. Blackburn with Darwen (53.9%) is also significantly better than England, while Blackpool (30.0%) is similar.  
  • 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 three-year period 2017/18-2019/20 the Lancashire-12 area recorded 365 hospital admissions due to substance misuse among persons aged 15-24, giving a directly standardised rate per 100,000 of 83.9, similar to the England average of 81.2. Blackpool (167.2) is significantly higher but no longer has the highest rate in the country. Blackburn with Darwen (110.5) 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.

  • 1.1% of those aged 15 in Lancashire-12 stated they had taken drugs (excluding cannabis) in the last month (2014/15). 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 May 2021 to April 2022, in Lancashire-12 there were 211 young people (under-18) in treatment for substance misuse (includes alcohol). For Blackburn with Darwen there were 32, and in Blackpool the figure was 50.

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

Page updated June 2022