The number of drug-related deaths in Scotland has reached a record high, totalling 867. This marks a 23% rise on 2015. The latest statistics from the National Records of Scotland showed that the vast majority of deaths (70%) were among people aged 35 or over.
Unfortunately, in Scotland these numbers have increased steadily since 1996. Below you can see the increase year on year:
Aileen Campbell, the minister for public health stated that the problem in Scotland comes from a legacy of drugs misuse:
“What we are seeing is an ageing group of people who are long term drugs users. They have a pattern of addiction which is very difficult to break, and they have developed other chronic medical conditions as a result of this prolonged drugs use.”
Others, such as David Liddell – the chief executive of the Scottish Drugs Forum has labelled the latest statistics as a ‘national tragedy’ and has called for a rethink of Scotland’s attitudes to drugs:
“Fatal drug overdose deaths are personal tragedies for the individuals and their families, and clearly of a scale which is a national tragedy that requires a fundamental rethink of our approach.
Other countries have achieved a reduction in overdose deaths by ensuring that people are appropriately retained in high-quality treatment and we must aspire to do the same.”
This is a continual problem for Scotland, and one that does not have an easy solution. The latest statistics show that the deaths have been caused by a variety of drugs, with most relating to opioids:
- 88% related to taking opioids or opiates
- 55% involved heroin and/or morphine
- 49% were linked to benzodiazepines
These statistics are truly shocking and they cannot be ignored. This latest report will once again bring to light the prevalence of drug use and place an importance of help, education and government led guidance.