Cookie policy: This site uses cookies (small files stored on your computer) to simplify and improve your experience of this website. Cookies are small text files stored on the device you are using to access this website. For more information please take a look at our terms and conditions. Some parts of the site may not work properly if you choose not to accept cookies.

Join

Subscribe or Register

Existing user? Login

Controlled drugs

Drug-related deaths in Scotland hit record level

Scotland now has the highest drug-related death rate in the EU, government statistics have shown

The number of drug-related deaths in Scotland rose to 1,187 in 2018: a figure 27% higher than the previous year, according to data from National Records of Scotland.

The largest increase in drug-related deaths were seen in those aged 35–54 years, with males accounted for 72% of the deaths. Scotland now has the highest rate of drug-related deaths in the EU — three times higher than across the UK as a whole.

In most cases, the report says, deaths occurred in those that had taken more than one drug. Opiates or opioids (including heroin/morphine, methadone, codeine and dihydrocodeine) were implicated in 86% (1,021) of the deaths reported, and “prescribable” benzodiazepenes (including diazepam) were implicated in 20% (238) of the deaths. Gabapentin and pregabalin were implicated in 31% (367) of cases and new psychoactive substances in 575 deaths.

In 86% (1,017) of cases, “accidental poisoning” was identified as the underlying cause of death.

Across NHS board areas, Greater Glasgow and Clyde had the highest number of drug-related deaths (394), followed by Lothian (152). None were reported in Shetland, and the Western Isles and Orkney recorded 2 deaths and 3 deaths, respectively.

Earlier in July 2019, the Scottish government appointed pharmacist Catriona Matheson to chair a newly-created Drug Deaths Taskforce, aimed at addressing the increasing number of drug deaths in Scotland.

Matheson, professor in substance use at the University of Stirling, said in a statement following her appointment that she was “honoured to accept this responsibility to deliver real change through a strengthened public health approach”.

“I am keen to examine the evidence and work across the landscape, involving those with lived experience of drug use and their families. We need to be bold in our thinking and our actions to reverse the trend, recognising that behind the statistics is personal tragedy,” she said.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2019.20206829

Have your say

For commenting, please login or register as a user and agree to our Community Guidelines. You will be re-directed back to this page where you will have the ability to comment.

Recommended from Pharmaceutical Press

Search an extensive range of the world’s most trusted resources

Powered by MedicinesComplete
  • Print
  • Share
  • Comment
  • Save
  • Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF

Jobs you might like

Newsletter Sign-up

Want to keep up with the latest news, comment and CPD articles in pharmacy and science? Subscribe to our free alerts.