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Suspected drug deaths in the north-east remain at a high level


By David Porter

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Suspected drug deaths during the first six months of 2021 fell slightly in the north-east but were at a similar level to those recorded during the first six months of 2020.

This reflected the national trend and overall, there continues to be a rise in suspected drug deaths over the period for which data is available.

A publication of statistics for the first half of 2021 shows a small decrease (1per cent) on the same period last year, though the Minister for Drugs Policy has made clear the figure of 722 remains unacceptably high.

As work continues to get more people into treatment, £2.3 million is being allocated to Health Improvement Scotland (HIS) over the next three years to enable them to support NHS boards in developing an integrated approach to the delivery of mental health and substance use services.

The new statistics show that in the first six months of 2021-

There were 722 suspected drug deaths, 1 per cent (nine) fewer than during the first six months of 2020.

Males accounted for 72 per cent of suspected drug deaths, compared to 76 per cent during the same period last year.

Just over two thirds (69 per cent) of suspected drug deaths were of people aged between 35 and 54.

There were 35 suspected drug deaths in the under 25 age group, 29 per cent (14) fewer than during the first six months of 2020.

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

The north-east recorded 26, down from 33 in the previous quarter and almost equal to the same time period last year (25).

Drugs Policy Minister Angela Constance
Drugs Policy Minister Angela Constance

Drugs Policy Minister Angela Constance said: “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.

“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 £2.3 million 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.

“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 2,848 visits to the StopTheDeaths website.

“The £250 million 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.”


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