The number of drug-related deaths in Suffolk has reached record levels.

Suffolk had 39 drug deaths in 2021 - which is the highest number since records began in 1993, according to government research.

This figure is also the highest in the east of England. Essex was the next closest with 24 deaths.

Work is taking place to expand the provision of the life-saving heroin antidote naloxone to cut the number of deaths.

An ageing population of those addicted to drugs and the increase in purity and availability of drugs have been suggested as factors that could have led to record figure.

Suffolk County Council assistant director, public health and communities, Martin Seymour, said: "All drug-related deaths are a preventable tragedy.

"Both nationally and locally we are seeing the highest recorded number of drug-related deaths since records began.

"Every statistic represents a life and it is important that we all continually strive to reduce drug-related deaths.

“In December 2021, the government launched its 10-Year Strategy ‘From Harm to Hope’, which aims to break Supply Chains, deliver a world-class treatment and recovery system and reduce the demand for recreational drugs.

"This strategy is expected to prevent 1,000 deaths nationally by the end of 2024/25, reversing the upward trend in drug deaths for the first time in a decade.

“Locally we are establishing a cross-agency Combating Drugs Partnership which will oversee the delivery of the National Drug Strategy in Suffolk.

"The strategy sets out how locally we will work across the Suffolk System to expand the provision of the life-saving heroin antidote naloxone to drive down drug-related deaths.

"Turning Point, who we commission to deliver drug and alcohol support services in Suffolk has already begun work to increase the availability of Naloxone for those who use drugs and the services that work with them.”

A government spokesman said the aim of the drugs strategy is to combat illegal drug use – reducing crime, saving lives, and challenging the very notion of ‘recreational drug use’.

He said: "Drugs destroy lives, they shatter families and they plague neighbourhoods around the country, fuelling violence and acquisitive crime. Enough is enough. We must turn the tide.

"This government will reverse these problems within the next decade. We will make our neighbourhoods safer for decades to come through an uncompromising confrontation of the illegal drug market, reducing harm to individuals and communities, through treatment and recovery from addiction, and by reducing demand for drugs."