Drug deaths in Scotland continue to rise – and a political ‘blame game’ isn’t helping

The Scottish National Party and Westminster are each pointing to the other’s failures in addressing the harm that drugs are causing – this helps nobody, writes Ian Hamilton

Saturday 31 July 2021 13:21
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<p>Drug users prepare heroin before injecting, while inside a safe consumption van</p>

Drug users prepare heroin before injecting, while inside a safe consumption van

For the seventh year in a row, deaths due to drugs have risen in Scotland. This year’s total is 1,339 – up 5 per cent on the previous year, which itself was a new record.

The majority of drug deaths in Scotland involve benzodiazepines, a class of drugs that include diazepam – sometimes referred to as Valium. These drugs have been prescribed for decades, but it is not prescribed benzodiazepines that are killing so many Scots, it is illicit versions that vary significantly in strength. This lack of quality control and potency mean those using the drugs often don’t know how strong they are until it’s too late.

It’s also telling that those living in the most deprived areas were 18 times more likely to die due from drugs than those from the most affluent areas in Scotland, according to the research. So, while drugs are ubiquitous, the fatal effects are not.

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