The number of patients addicted to opioid painkillers in England and the length of time they have been dependent will be set out in full for the first time in a major report due out in weeks.
Sources say the report from Public Health England will serve as a “wake-up call” on the extent of opioid dependency.
While noting there is nothing yet on the scale of the opioid addiction crisis in North America, they say the report will highlight areas of concern including higher numbers of patients on the drugs in more economically deprived areas.
A recent report by the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development examined the issue in 25 wealthier nations.
It noted that while the UK was below countries like the US and Germany for the volume of legally available opioids, it had seen one of the fastest rates of growth over three years to 2016.