New figures show a rise in the number of people admitted to hospital with drug related mental illness
Strong cannabis could be one of the reasons behind an increase in the number of people admitted to hospital with mental health problems caused by drugs.
The theory comes as figures show 12 people a day are admitted on Merseyside – with an admission rates standing at three times the national average in Liverpool alone.
The illegal substance, which some experts believe to be linked to schizophrenia diagnoses, is also known as skunk.
Associate director of policy and campaigns at Rethink Mental Illness Danielle Hamm said: “Certain drugs have been known to prompt a mental illness – for example strong cannabis known as “skunk” has been linked to schizophrenia.
“We also know that using drugs when you have a mental health problem can complicate your recovery, and can increase the likelihood of self-harm and suicide.”
Across our region there were 4,455 hospital admissions with a primary or secondary diagnosis of drug related mental and behavioural disorders in 2016/17, the equivalent of 12.3 admissions a day.
However, this was down 8% from 4,849 in 2015/16, but was a 9% rise from 4,087 admissions in 2013/14.
In Liverpool, there were more than 2,000 admissions which is actually a drop of 12% since last year.
St Helens saw a 39% rise in admissions since 2013/14, up from 442 to 614, with a 21% rise in the last year alone.
And in Knowsley, there were 486 admissions in 2016/17, a rate of 344 per 100,000 people, up from 474 in 2015/16, and up from 379 in 2013/14.
Drugs thought to be involved with causing these issues include cannabis, opioids, and cocaine, as well as sedatives, sleeping tablets and anti-anxiety medication.
Ms Hamm said more research was needed into why people were being admitted to hospital, suggesting that factors such as more awareness of the problem and local closures of drug and alcohol units may impact on numbers.
Karen Tyrell, from drug, alcohol and mental health charity Addaction, added: “People with both mental health and substance misuse issues can find it extremely difficult to access mental health services.
“All too frequently mental health services refuse treatment because a person is not abstinent, or has not been abstinent for a sufficient length of time. This is despite government guidance and best practice. Getting people connected with community services at an earlier stage could prevent hospital admissions.”
“It’s positive that the numbers have come down over the past year, but we know that there is still a long way to go before they could be said to be acceptable. Harm reduction must be taken seriously and services such as needle exchanges must be adequately provided across the country.”
Across England, there were 82,135 hospital admissions with a primary or secondary diagnosis of drug related mental and behavioural disorders in 2016/17.
Admission numbers are at a similar level to 2015/16 but more than double the level in 2006/07, when there were 38,170 admissions, although increases could partly be put down to improvements in recording.
The number of admissions with a primary or secondary diagnosis of drug-related mental health and behavioural disorders was highest for patients aged 25 to 34.
However, those aged 25 to 34 are one of only two age groups to have seen a drop in the number of admissions since 2015/16, down 3% from the previous year, with a 5% drop in admissions for those aged 16 to 24. The 25 to 34 age group has also seen the smallest growth in admissions over the ten years, up 52%.
In comparison, while older adults are less likely to be admitted, admission numbers have grown much faster over the 10 years, with 502% rise in admissions for those age 65 to 74, up from 232 to 1,397, with a 491% increase in admissions for those aged 55 to 64, up from 793 to 4,688.
The North West had the highest rate of admissions per 100,000 population for males and females at 314 and 138 respectively.
By Connor Dunn – Liverpool Echo