Scotland drug deaths reach new record level

30 July 2021, 23:43 | Updated: 30 July 2021, 23:45

Scotland has the highest rate of drug-related deaths in Europe
Scotland has the highest rate of drug-related deaths in Europe. Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

The number of drug-related deaths in Scotland has reached a new record level after figures showed they had increased for the seventh consecutive year.

A total of 1,339 drug-related deaths were recorded in Scotland last year, an increase of 5 per cent on the previous year and meaning the country continues to have the worst drug death rate in Europe.

"The loss of life is immense and this loss of life is heartbreaking and utterly unacceptable," said Minister for Drugs Policy Angela Constance, speaking to LBC.

"As well as offering my condolences to everyone who has lost a loved one I also state my commitment to continue to do everything possible in our national mission to save and improve lives by getting more of our people into the treatment that they need and deserve."

Read more: Ben Stokes taking indefinite break from cricket to 'prioritise mental health'

Read more: Boris Johnson under pressure to allow double jabbed to escape isolation sooner

Drug related deaths in Scotland increase again

The data from the National Records of Scotland (NRS) shows that Scotland had 21.2 drug-related deaths per 100,000 of the population - more than three-and-a-half times higher than the rest of the UK.

Glasgow was again found to be the worst area for people struggling with addiction, with 291 dying last year in the city.

At a protest held there on Friday, people gathered to share their stories of addiction, with one man saying: "Communities are being decimated. I've been to maybe two dozen funerals over the last three years, and that's not an exaggeration."

Read more: Blustery Britain: Storm Evert to bring more strong wind and heavy rain

Read more: Man pleads guilty to assaulting Professor Chris Whitty in London

"It's sad that we're now complicit in the increase in drug-related deaths," Natalie Logan Maclean, CEO of addiction charity Sisco, told LBC.

"We're all complicit, society is complicit, Scotland is complicit.

"We knew since 2019 the numbers were going to increase. We didn't make any radical change."

LBC accompanies Merseyside Police on a raid of a cannabis farm in St Helens

Attending the protest, Douglas Ross, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, said: "Scotland is not just the drug death capital now of the United Kingdom but across the whole of the EU and we cannot simply have year after year more of these figures showing that an increased number of people are dying as a result of this, because every life lost is a life lost too soon and a family devastated."

Responding to the figures, Nicola Sturgeon said the number of lives lost "is unacceptable, each one a human tragedy".

The First Minister tweeted that the Scottish Government "does not shirk the responsibility & we are determined to make changes that will save lives".

She added: "These 2020 figures (though no less shameful because of it) predate actions set out at start of year.

"We now have a dedicated drugs minister in @AConstanceSNP, a substantial funding commitment and action underway to eg ensure faster access to community support, treatment and rehab.

Read more: Brighton cat killer jailed for over five years after spate of attacks

Read more: Covid infections rise across most of UK but R-rate drops slightly in England

"We will also continue to argue for reform of drugs law, which is not currently within our power.

"Today, my thoughts are with every family who has lost a loved one - I am sorry for the loss you have suffered."

"However, I know that from @scotgov what is required isn't words, but action to prevent people dying, and that is what we are determined to deliver."

Ms Constance described the statistics as "heart-breaking" as she announced plans to report drug deaths every quarter to inform the response to the crisis.

She said: "Once again, the statistics on drug-related deaths are heart-breaking. I want to offer my sincere condolences to everyone who has lost a loved one through drug use.

"We need to gather as much information as we can about drug use in Scotland and to that end, data on suspected drug deaths will be published quarterly from this September. This will ensure we can react more quickly and effectively to this crisis and identify any emerging trends.

Read more: Clubs to ask for vaccine passports after Govt accused of introducing them 'by stealth'

Read more: Vegans could dodge 'no jab no job' rules amid 'discrimination' concerns

"We are working hard to get more people into the treatment that works for them as quickly as possible.

"Without treatment, there is little hope of recovery so we are funding as many community and third-sector initiatives as we can so that individuals have the widest possible choice and can opt for the support which suits them and their family."

In response to last year's figures, which caused then-public health minister Joe FitzPatrick to resign, the Scottish Government announced a £250 million investment - £100 million of which would be for the improvement of residential rehab.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Mark Rowley says the number of officers in the Met is falling

Met Police officer numbers drop as force calls for 'thousands of applicants' in new recruitment drive

Joe Biden has tested positive for Covid

Joe Biden cancels campaign event after testing positive for Covid-19

Starmer is set to push for a migrant return deal with the EU

Starmer to push for new migrant return deal with EU, as he seeks to 'renew UK's relationship with Europe' at summit

Keir Starmer faces a challenge over the two-child benefit cap

Keir Starmer seeks to stave off Labour backbench revolt over benefit cap with child poverty taskforce

A man has been shot dead in Kirkby

Man shot dead on residential street close to Liverpool training ground, as police launch murder investigation

Joe Biden has hinted he could step aside from the race against Donald Trump for the White House

Biden hints he could quit election race against Trump on medical advice, as top Democrat calls for him to stand down

The scandal surrounding Strictly Come Dancing has deepened after footage showing former professional dancer James Jordan telling his celebrity partner Georgina Bouzova "kill you" surfaced on social media.

Strictly scandal deepens as footage showing ex-pro telling partner he will 'kill her' emerges

Liz Truss

Reference to Truss' 'disaster' mini-budget removed from King's Speech files after ex-PM complains to civil service chief

Police found "over a dozen" firearms at Crooks' home

Thomas Crooks' father 'called police on the day of the Trump rally shooting'

Cameron Jones left his dying fiancee Demi by the side of the road

Moment driver flees from car wreckage leaving fiancee to die - before he later blames her for horror crash

Kim Johnson wants the two-child benefit cap to be scrapped

Labour MP calls for two-child benefit cap to be axed as she plans King's Speech amendment after policy retained

Adele has played 90 shows in Las Vegas

Adele announces she is stepping back from music after growing to ‘absolutely hate’ fame

Two British travel agents are believed to be the pair found shot dead and their bodies burned in a car in Malmo.

British travel agents thought to be pair shot dead and burned in car in Malmo

Two dead and two children in hospital after house fire in Blackpool

Two die and two children rushed to hospital after house fire in Blackpool

Locals have been warned to avoid the area

Locals warned 'do not open your doors' as huge fire erupts on Birmingham industrial estate

Joe Biden his facing pressure to step down ahead of November's election.

Joe Biden wrongly claims he will cap rent rises at $55 in latest gaffe