Recorded drug deaths in Scotland highest in EU

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The number of drug-related deaths in Scotland soared to 1,187 last year, according to official statistics.

The figure is 27% higher than the previous year, and the highest since records began in 1996.

The number of drug-related deaths in Scotland has more than doubled since 2008, when there were 574 deaths.

It means the country’s drug death rate is now nearly three times that of the UK as a whole, and is higher than that reported for any other EU country.

The latest figures also mean Scotland has a higher drug death rate than the one reported for the US, which was previously thought to be the highest rate in the world.

There were more than 70,000 drug deaths in the US in 2017 but the rate of 217 per million of the population is now lower than Scotland’s rate (218).

However, countries differ in how deaths are recorded, and there may be under-reporting in some cases.

What do the Scottish figures show?

The statistics published by National Records of Scotland show that nearly three quarters – 72% – of those who died last year were male.

Opiates or opioids, such as heroin, morphine and methadone, were implicated in, or potentially contributed to, 1,021 deaths.

Benzodiazepines such as diazepam and etizolam were implicated in, or potentially contributed to, 792 deaths.

There were 442 drug-related deaths of people aged 35-44, 345 deaths in the 45-54 age-group and 217 drug-related deaths of 25-34 year olds.

The Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board area had the highest number of deaths at 394, followed by Lothian (152), Lanarkshire (130) and Tayside (109).

But the report said that the problem was “clearly a a very widespread” across the whole country.

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