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Drug Deaths Are at an All-Time High in Scotland

In 2015, 706 people died due to drug abuse, an increase of 15 percent on the previous year.

by Yasmin Jeffery
17 August 2016, 11:42am

According to official statistics from the National Records of Scotland, drug deaths reached an all-time high in Scotland last year. A report by the government department found that 706 people – the biggest figure on record – died due to drug abuse in 2015. While the number of drug-related deaths has been on the rise since 1995, when 426 deaths were recorded, the figure represents a 15 percent increase on the total number from 2014, when 613 people died of similar causes.

The report also established that men made up 69 percent of all drug-related deaths in 2015, while 73 percent of deaths were among people aged 35 and older. Experts say older users are responsible for the sharp rise in deaths since they are least likely to seek help from treatment services after a long history of abuse.

In the wake of the figures, which have linked heroin and morphine to 49 percent of all drug-related deaths, health professionals and drugs charities are urging authorities to consider supervised heroin consumption so users can inject drugs safely. A report from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde in June of 2016 suggested "taking away the chaos" by introducing injectable, pharmaceutical-grade heroin in specialist outpatient facilities under clinical supervision, with strict safeguards in place. The health board contends that such a move would prove beneficial to both users and the wider community.

Intriguingly, the research doesn't address Scotland's valium problem. Millions of the pills, both real and counterfeit, are available to purchase on the streets of Scotland for as little as 20p a pop, and the nation is suffering for it. "Mother's little helper" is detected in the bodies of 72 percent of all victims of drug-related deaths.

Speaking to the BBC about the massive rise in deaths, Dr Roy Robertson, chair of the National Forum on Drug Related Deaths, articulated what a lot of people are thinking: "I am struggling to find the right tone and the appropriate response... Who is to blame? What should we do about it? Why have we failed to have an impact despite our efforts?"

More on VICE:

Valium Is Killing Scotland's Drug-Taking Poor

How to Make Drug Taking Better

Can Addicts Finally Force the War on Drugs to End