A recent report has revealed that Scotland has recorded the highest drug death rate in the EU, with a 27% increase than the previous year.
The statistics published by National Records of Scotland show that drug-related deaths soared to 1,187 in the last year. This marked increase means there were more drug-related deaths in Scotland in the last year than alcohol-specific deaths (1,136).
The country death rate for drugs is now nearly three times that of the UK and is higher than that reported for any other UK country. The new figures show that Scotland now has a higher drug death rate than what has been reported for the USA, which previously was thought to have the highest rate globally.
Scotland, with a population of 5.4 million people; is said to have approximately 60,000 problem drug users. Dr Saket Priyadarshi, of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde addiction services, told MPs that Scotland had a much higher drug death rate than the rest of the UK due to it having far more problem users. He also noted that Scottish users were taking a lethal cocktail of drugs that regularly combined opiates such as heroin and methadone with benzodiazepines, pills often known as street Valium or street blues.
Worst in Europe
Scotland’s drug-related death rate is higher than all other EU countries. While it is possible and likely that the problem in many countries is actually worse than what official figures suggest, Scotland’s drug-related death rate – 218 per million of the population – is the highest. It is about three times that of the UK rate.
According to Dr Andrew McAuley, a senior research fellow at Glasgow Caledonian University, Scotland has “proportionately way more drug users than the rest of the UK.” Going further, he said “that ultimately has an obvious impact on the number of drug-related deaths.”
Biggest drug killers
Most of the drug-related deaths in Scotland apply to people who took more than one substance, poly-drug use. Drugs such as heroin and methadone are implicated in most of deaths, but users are often taking a cocktail of illegal substances.
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