Hospital admissions in Northamptonshire for patients with drug related mental health issues have increased by almost 50% in the last four years.
Charities have said this shows people are more candid with doctors about substance abuse, as well as difficulty accessing rehab services.
Between April 2017 and March 2018, there were 615 admissions for mental illnesses or behaviour disorders where the main cause or a contributing factor was drugs.
According to the latest NHS England figures, that is a rise of 49% from four years ago, when these records began. Although the most recent total has actually decreased compared with the previous 12 months.
Lucy Schonegevel, from Rethink Mental Illness, said: “This is yet another piece of evidence in an ever-growing list showing the pressure that NHS services are facing in treating people with mental ill health.
“The reasons behind this increase will be numerous and complex. We hear from our supporters about the difficulties that they face accessing services when they have a combination of mental health and drug issues.
“Services for people with mental illness, and services for people with substance misuse problems, are funded and provided by completely different organisations. Sadly, this can mean that people often fall through gaps in the system.”
Of Northamptonshire’s 615 admissions, 410 were men and 205 were women. Drugs tended to be a contributing factor for mental health issues, rather than the main cause. There were 45 cases where they were diagnosed as the primary reason for behaviour disorders.
These figures only indicate the number of admissions, not patients. They could include one patient who has been to hospital several times over the year.
Across England, there was a 27% rise in drug related admissions over the last four years.
Steve Moffatt, of the public health charity Addaction, said the increase could be due to improved recording practices in hospitals and “a greater willingness among people in general to admit to a history of substance use”.
“These are both positive developments and we encourage anything that helps people be open and honest without fear of judgement,” he said.
“It’s essential that people feel able to disclose a substance issue and ask for help.”
The rate of drug related mental health admissions in Northamptonshire is 85 per 100,000 people, lower than the East Midlands’s average, which is 132 per 100,000.
Mr Moffat commented: “The statistics show a significant north versus south divide. In both the North East and North West, hospital admissions in this category are 50% higher than the national rate.”
The figures also show the number of admissions for patients who have overdosed on illegal drugs, such as ecstasy or heroin. Northamptonshire has one of the highest drug poisoning rates in England.
From April 2017 to March 2018 there were 355 admissions, a rise of 69 cases, on the previous year.
Compared with four years ago there has been a 67% increase in hospital admissions for illegal drugs overdoses.