934 deaths from a drug overdose in Scotland in 2017

There were 934 deaths from a drug overdose registered in Scotland in 2017.

The figures, released today by the National Records of Scotland (NRS), show that 66 more people have died than in 2016, which is an increase of 8%.

This is the largest number of drug-related deaths in Scotland since the series began in 1996, and more than double the figure for 2007 (455).

Key points from the ‘Drug-related Deaths in Scotland in 2017’ report include:

  • Males accounted for 70 per cent of the drug-related deaths in 2017.
  • There were 360 drug-related deaths of people aged 35-44 (39% of all drug-related deaths), 268 deaths in the 45-54 age-group (29%) and 185 drug-related deaths of 25-34 year olds (20 per cent).
  • The NHS Board areas with the most drug-related deaths in 2017 were:
    • Greater Glasgow & Clyde – 280 (30 per cent);
    • Lothian – 137 (15 per cent);
    • Lanarkshire – 102 (11 per cent); and
    • Tayside – 94 (10 per cent).
  • Opiates or opioids, such as heroin, morphine and methadone, were implicated in, or potentially contributed to, 815 deaths (87 per cent of the total number in 2017). Benzodiazepines such as diazepam and etizolam were implicated in, or potentially contributed to, 552 deaths (59 per cent).
  • Scotland’s figures imply a drug-death rate that is higher than those reported for any EU country (though there are issues of coding, coverage and under-reporting in some countries), and roughly 2½ times that of the UK as a whole.

The Scottish government is currentlyworking on a new drugs strategy, to update the “road to recovery” which was launched in 2008.

New public health minister Joe Fitzpatrick MSP offered his “deepest condolences to the families and friends who have lost loved ones over the last year”.

He said: “We will continue to do all we can to prevent others from experiencing similar heartbreak and we are developing a refreshed substance use strategy.

“This is in direct response to the changing drugs landscape, the continued rise in drug related deaths and the recognition that current services do not meet the needs of all the people who need support.”

Click here to view the Drug-related Deaths in Scotland in 2017 report

Click here to view a short video that includes the key points of the report