Increase in kids losing a parent because of drugs

More than 300 children suffered the death of a parent or parental figure because of drugs in 2011, new figures from Scotland show.

A total of 331 children were affected – up from 238 in 2010.

One Scottish Conservative MSP said the SNP Government needs to “get a grip on this spiralling problem before hundreds more children lose parents under these needless and tragic circumstances”.


The new statistics also showed that methadone, a legal substance used to treat drug addicts, was implicated in more deaths than any other drug.

It was revealed that 53.4 per cent of deaths studied involved methadone, with 38.6 per cent involving heroin or morphine.

More than one drug was implicated in the death in the majority of cases.

Crack down

The figures come from an analysis of drug-related deaths in Scotland done by the National Drug-related Deaths Database (NDRDD).

The NDRDD looked at 438 cases in 2011, which is up from 365 the previous year.

Responding to the report, Scottish Labour’s Lewis Macdonald MSP said: “It is important to remember that these figures represent a death and in almost half the cases, it is a parent who has died.

“The figures also show that methadone is being abused by hardened drug users. We need to crack down on the abuse of methadone in our communities.”


Tory chief whip John Lamont MSP said: “It’s bad enough that people are being parked on methadone with no hope of recovery, but now we are seeing it playing an active role in the deaths of hundreds of people.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman commented that its drugs strategy “is clear that substitute prescribing such as methadone, is one of a number of methods of treatment and care that can be offered to individuals”.

The Government also said it had national guidance in place to tackle the problem of children at risk from their parents’ alcohol or drug use.

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