The number of drug-related deaths in Germany has risen for the fourth year in a row. While 1,581 people died from drugs in 2020, it was 1,826 last year.

This was announced by the federal government’s drug commissioner, Burkhard Blienert, on Monday in Berlin. In 2017 there were only 1272 drug deaths.

As in previous years, most fatalities were due to heroin and other opioids, alone or in combination with other substances.

The number of drug deaths from heroin overdoses alone has risen to 195, and to 88 deaths from opioid substitution drugs. This is an increase of 50 percent for heroin and 167 percent for opioid substitution drugs.

Substitution therapy is the treatment of opioid-dependent patients with substitute substances.

Blienert called the numbers “shocking”. It is not possible to continue like this in German drug policy. Help, treatment and advice should reach people faster and more directly.

“What we need now – and fast – is a basic discussion with the federal states,” said Blienert. “It must not be the case that people who are seriously addicted are not reached at all and are left alone with their illness and its social consequences.”