A third of Scottish drug related deaths are parents

More than a third of Scottish drug-related deaths in 2013 were parents or parental figures, according to figures from ISD Scotland – affecting more than 270 children. The proportion of deaths in over-35s, meanwhile, increased from half in 2009 to two thirds in 2013. The figures represent a further analysis of the drug-death statistics published last year (DDN, September 2014, page 4).

silhouette of people to illustrate drug related deaths

As with previous years, three quarters of those who died were men and half were living in Scotland’s most deprived areas. More than half had been in contact with drug treatment services, while just over a quarter had been admitted to hospital for an acute or psychiatric stay in the previous six months.

The percentage of Scottish drug related deaths where heroin was present was unchanged from the last two years, although the percentage with methadone present fell from 56 per cent to 47 per cent between 2011 and 2103. There were more than 200 cases where new psychoactive substances (NPS) were present in the four years to 2013, more than half of which were in 2013 alone.

‘By providing further context around these deaths, and by studying the contributing factors, we can ensure that more families in Scotland can avoid the painful loss of a loved one to drug use,’ said community safety minister Paul Wheelhouse. ‘These figures also show that Scotland is dealing with an ageing cohort of drug users. We are continuing to work alongside our sponsored organisations to investigate the health and social care needs of this vulnerable group and look at how we can improve the quality and range of treatment and support available to them throughout the country.’

It was also becoming ‘increasingly clear’ that NPS represented a significant challenge for health, justice and third sector organisations, he stated. “The Scottish Government are in early discussions with the Home Office on how we will work together to create new legislation to control the sale and supply of NPS, both here in Scotland and also around the rest of the rest of the UK.’

National drug related deaths database (Scotland) report 2013 at www.isdscotland.org

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