Scotland records 722 suspected drug deaths in first half of 2021

The total figure is nine fewer (1%) than the number recorded in the first six months of 2020.

Scotland records 722 suspected drug deaths in first half of 2021 iStock

There were 722 suspected drug deaths in Scotland in the first six months of the year, according to official statistics.

Of those, men accounted for 72% of suspected drug deaths, with just over two thirds (69%) of the total aged between 35 and 54.

In the under 25 age group, there were 35 suspected drug deaths recorded over the same period this year.

The police divisions with the highest numbers of suspected drug deaths were Greater Glasgow (187), Lanarkshire (67), Edinburgh City (64) and Tayside (64).

The total figure of 722 suspected drugs deaths is nine fewer (1%) than the number recorded in the first six months of 2020.

Angela Constance said the figures are 'appalling'.Scottish Parliament TV

Drugs policy minister Angela Constance said more must be done to create a more “integrated, person-centred approach to treatment”.

“Once again these figures are appalling. We are taking a vast range of actions to tackle this public health emergency, and we recognise the hard work and challenges ahead,” she said.

“More regular reporting of data on drug death trends in Scotland will ensure everyone involved in our national mission remains focussed on the work we must do to get more people into the treatment that is best suited for them as quickly as possible.

“We know that to do this we must create a more integrated, person-centred approach to treatment.

“We are therefore investing £2.3m over the next three years in Health Improvement Scotland to ensure people are treated not only for their physical health addiction but their mental health too.”

She continued: “We are also working to reduce stigma and increase awareness.

“The Naloxone Awareness Campaign we launched with the Scottish Drugs Forum on International Overdose Awareness Day has already attracted 2848 visits to the StopTheDeaths website.   

“The £250m we are investing in tackling this public health emergency will make a difference.

“I am working to ensure it reaches front-line services as quickly as possible and that every single penny will count as we continue to prioritise our efforts to turn this crisis around.”

Scottish Conservative drugs policy spokesperson Sue Webber said: “These new statistics are heart-breaking.

“If this appalling trend continues, drug deaths will increase again to another shameful record.

“Scotland’s drug deaths crisis keeps getting worse because Nicola Sturgeon is out of touch with what’s really happening on our streets and in prisons across the country.”

Scottish Labour’s drugs policy spokesperson Claire Baker said: “Each and every one of these deaths is a travesty and each one is preventable.

“For years now, figures have been getting worse and the government have been promising action. It is shameful that after all this, we are still not making meaningful progress.

“It’s good to see more regular information being published, but it’s more important that it shows things moving in the right direction.

“We don’t need more expressions of regret from ministers – we need action to save lives. The government must act with the urgency needed.”

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