Hospital admissions from drug use reach record high in Scotland

Drug-related hospital stays have increased by over 350 per cent in the past two decades, official figures have revealed.

According to statistics from Public Health Scotland (PHS), the number of drug users admitted to hospital increased from just over 4,000 in 1996-97 to approximately 14,000 in 2018-2019.

Analysts only collected information for inpatient and day cases, and did not include attendances to Accident and Emergency that did not lead to hospital admission.


Those aged between 35 and 44 were most likely to require a drug-related hospital stay.

The report showed that despite “a lengthy period of annual decreases”, inpatient rates for 15 to 24-year-olds are on the rise again.

Admissions for drug-related stays increased sharply in the six years from 2012-13, increasing from 149 to 260 per 100,000 population.


David Liddell, CEO of the Scottish Drugs Forum, said that these statistics reflect “the reality” for two generations of people in Scotland.

Liddell suggested 35 to 45-year-olds now face complex health needs because of sustained multiple drug use, while the younger generation are “involved in heavy if not dependent use” of alcohol combined with other substances.

He concluded: “There should be concern that just as one group was failed in the past we are now failing another generation”.

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