Saturday, July 31, 2021

The Drug Nation of Europe

 1,339 people died of drug misuse in Scotland last year, with the country seeing a record number of deaths for the seventh year in a row.

Scotland continues to have by far the highest drug death rate recorded by any country in Europe.

And its rate is more than three-and-a-half times that of England and Wales.

 It is now almost three times higher than it was a decade ago.

Greater Glasgow and Clyde had the highest rate of all health board areas at 30.8 deaths per 100,000 people, followed by Ayrshire and Arran and Tayside with rates of 27.2 and 25.7 respectively.

And the poorest are worst hit.  People in the most deprived parts of the country were 18 times more likely to have a drug-related death as those in the least deprived.

The gap has widened significantly since the start of the century, when deaths were 10 times higher in the most deprived areas.

Almost two-thirds of the deaths were of people aged between 35 and 54, with the average age increasing from 32 to 43 over the past two decades.

93% of the deaths reported in 2020 were as a result of accidental overdoses, while 4% were considered deliberate self-poisoning.

More than one drug was found to be present in the body of 93% of those who died, suggesting that many of the deaths were caused by Scotland's "polydrug" habit - mixing dangerous street drugs with alcohol and prescription pills.

Opiates such as heroin and methadone were implicated in 1,192 deaths while benzodiazepines such as diazepam and etizolam were implicated in 974.

Gabapentin or pregabalin were present in the bodies of 502 people who died, and cocaine in 459.

There have been large increases in the numbers of deaths where "street" benzodiazepines, such as etizolam, were involved in recent years, from 58 in 2015 to 879 last year.

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