Drug-related deaths in Scotland grew by 1,300 in 2020


New data from National Records of Scotland has shown that drug-related deaths in Scotland grew by 1,300 in 2020; thus, representing a 5% increase, which is the highest annual number since records began in 1996.

The data shows that men were 2.7 times as likely to have a drug-related death compared to women. Also, sixty-three per cent of drug-related deaths in 2020 were of people in their mid-thirties to mid-fifties.

“Drug-related deaths in Scotland grew by 1,300 in 2020.“

In addition, data shows that those living in Scotland’s most deprived areas were eighteen times more likely to die from a drug-related condition compared to those in Scotland’s least disadvantaged areas.

In June 2021, the Scottish government pledged to allocate almost fourteen and a half million pounds to frontline services in 2021/2022 to help reduce the number of drug-related deaths.

Chair of the Scottish Drug Deaths Taskforce, Catriona Matheson, stated: “Every drug-related death in Scotland is an avoidable tragedy, and these figures serve to remind us of the importance and urgency of our mission to identify the areas of action that can make a sustainable impact against the challenge. We believe the approach of putting evidence into action has saved lives and we will analyse the detail behind the headlines and look to build upon those areas showing progress and to address those areas requiring more attention."

The Scottish Drugs Policy Minister, Angela Constance, stated: “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.”

Policy and practise lead at the RPS Scotland, Laura Wilson stated: “Pharmacists and pharmacy teams already play a big role in supporting and providing treatment to people who use drugs, as well as offering harm reduction services and advice. The RPS wants to build on this fantastic work by enabling them to do even more to reduce harm from drugs. We are calling on the Scottish government, pharmacy organisations, contractors and members of the profession to work together to reduce harm from drugs and improve the health of people who use drugs.”

Chief Executive Officer, Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs, Justina Murray, stated: “Whilst we welcome the millions of pounds of new funding to address drug harms, along with a raft of new initiatives, strategies and plans, the reality on the ground is that things still look and feel the same for families. We will only see change in the drug death figures when families tell us things have changed for the better.”

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