Scotland in grip of drug death crisis

Barsaba Taglieri
Agosto 16, 2017

"The number of drug-related deaths in Scotland has increased by 23 percent year-on-year to nearly 900 in 2016, which is the highest rate since 1996, the National Records of Scotland stated in its report released Tuesday".

Shadow health secretary Miles Briggs said: "These figures are nothing short of appalling".

A total of 867 drug-related deaths were registered in Scotland in 2016, according to statistics published today by the National Records of Scotland. As well as in Scotland, the majority of deaths were due to opiate (mainly heroin and/or morphine) consumption.

The average number of drug deaths per year in Scotland also rose between the two periods, from 362 per year to 659 a year.

According to the statistics, the drug-death rate in Scotland is higher than those reported for all the European Union countries, though the think-tank notes that there have been issues of coding, coverage and under-reporting in some countries. There were 38 fatalities in 2016, a rate of 0.23 deaths per 1,000 people, almost double the national average of 0.12.

Opioids like heroin, morphine and methadone were implicated in 765 deaths previous year, while 176 involved cocaine, ecstasy or amphetamines such as speed.

"What we are seeing is an ageing group of people who are long-term drugs users".

The latest figures were revealed on Tuesday by National Records of Scotland (NTS).

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton described the figures as "shocking".

He said: "For decades now we've had a drugs policy that simply parks people on methadone programmes, offering them zero hope of ever beating addiction completely".

"Cuts to alcohol and drugs partnerships need to be reversed now, and people need more direct access to physical support".

Scottish Labour Inequalities spokeswoman Monica Lennon MSP said: "SNP Ministers need to give themselves a shake and take responsibility for their actions".

Aileen Campbell, minister for public health said: "We are dealing with a very complex problem in Scotland - a legacy of drugs misuse stretching back decades".

Nearly three-quarters (72%) of drug-related deaths were in the over-35 age group. They have a pattern of addiction which is very hard to break, and they have developed other chronic medical conditions as a result of this prolonged drugs use. Most worrying is a trend over the past 20 years in which drug deaths nearly quadruple, with a massive increase in the rate for older abusers. "This is why I recently announced a refresh of our drugs strategy in response to the changing landscape we are seeing".

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