Scots drug deaths reach new record high

Over 1,300 people died of drug misuse in Scotland in 2020, setting a new record high for the seventh year in a row.

The drug-related death rate figures from the National Records of Scotland (NRS) vastly outstrip second-place Sweden, and are more than three-and-a-half times those in England and Wales.

Last year’s 1,339 deaths are an increase of 75 from the 1,264 recorded in 2019.


NRS figures showed that almost two thirds of the deaths were of people aged between 35 and 54.

The report also revealed that those in the most deprived areas were 18 times more likely to have a drug related death compared to those in the least deprived.

The percentage of those with more than one drug in the body at death totalled 93 per cent.

‘National shame’

Responding to the report, Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross said it was a “national shame”.

The Herald newspaper called the figures “profoundly shocking” and “a colossal record of wasted lives, misery and emotional and social costs”.

The paper added: “Drug abuse not only needlessly cuts lives short; it devastates families, blights our cities, contributes to crime and deprivation and has enormous economic costs.”

ONS figures

Earlier this week, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released the drug deaths figures for England and Wales last year, revealing an increase of 3.8 per cent from 2019.

However, the ONS noted that roughly half of the 4,561 reported deaths would have occurred in 2019 due to delays in registering deaths.

The figures are the highest since records began in 1993.

Also see:


Scot drug deaths highest on record

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