Drug services in Scotland increasingly working with an older population according to new figures

An annual overview of initial assessments for people seeking help for specialist drug treatment in Scotland in 2016/17 has been published.

The Scottish Drug Misuse Database (SDMD) report, published by Information Services Division (ISD) Scotland, collects information about people in Scotland who have a drug problem and are accessing specialist drug services and some medical services.

The report is a unique national data source that provides information which may be used to identify trends in activity over time, make comparisons between areas/groups, conduct research, improve services, and influence policy in relation to service provision for problem drug use.

This year’s report presents information on individuals presenting for initial assessment for a new drug treatment episode at services in 2016/17.

The main points of the report are:

  • In 2016/17, initial assessments for specialist drug treatment relating to 11,721 individuals were recorded on the Scottish Drug Misuse Database.
  • Drug services are increasingly dealing with an older population; the percentage of individuals assessed for specialist drug treatment who were aged 35 and over increased from 29% in 2006/07 to 51% in 2016/17.
  • Heroin was the most common substance people reported needing help with, although reported use of heroin has decreased over time. Among those who indicated recent drug use, the percentage of individuals reporting heroin as their main drug decreased from 64% in 2006/07 to 46% in 2016/17.
  • There has been a decrease in reports of injecting drug use; the percentage of individuals who reported that they were currently injecting drugs declined from 28% in 2006/07 to 18% in 2016/17.
  • Sharing of needles/syringes and other injecting equipment increases the risk of blood borne virus infection. Between 2006/07 and 2016/17 sharing of needles/syringes decreased from 12% to 6% and sharing of other injecting equipment fell from 20% to 9%.

This release should be viewed in conjunction with the SDMD electronic dashboard which is publicly available and provides users with accessible, interactive content based on data from 2006/07 to 2016/17.

Click here to view the SDMD 2016/17 report