Page last updated at 10:37 GMT, Thursday, 7 August 2008 11:37 UK

Drug deaths double in last decade

Drug preparation
Most deaths involved heroin or morphine

The number of drug-related deaths in Scotland has doubled in the past 10 years, according to new figures.

Analysis from the General Register Office for Scotland said 455 people died last year - a record number.

Heroin or morphine was involved in 64% of deaths, while 25% involved the heroin substitute methadone.

The Scottish Government said it was "disappointed" by the figures and added that the "scourge of drugs" would not disappear overnight.

Men accounted for 86% of drug-related deaths in the 2007 figures and almost 50% of all deaths were among people aged 35 or older.

The analysis revealed that the number of drug-related deaths had risen in eight of the past 10 years and said "the long-term trend appears to be steadily upwards".

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It added that in the last decade there had been "marked increases" in the number of deaths involving heroin and morphine, cocaine and alcohol.

The health board areas with the largest increases in the numbers of drug-related deaths were Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire, Forth Valley and Ayrshire and Arran.

Figures for Dumfries and Galloway doubled between 2006 and 2007 when the number of deaths was the highest ever recorded in the region.

The Scottish Government announced a new drug strategy earlier this year emphasising the need to help addicts recover from their addiction.

Action plan

It suggested a shift away from methadone as the major intervention.

Responding to the figures, Minister for Community Safety Fergus Ewing said: "In the short term these figures may continue to rise - partly because of the cumulative effects of abuse on older drug users - but that doesn't mean we should sit back and accept it."

He added he was "confident" that the new drugs strategy "will have a positive impact in reducing drug-related deaths".

He said a new action plan specifically aimed at tackling drug-related deaths had been drawn up.

Scottish Conservative leader Annabel Goldie said the figures showed "the tragic consequences of the drugs epidemic in Scotland".

She claimed that waiting time for addicts to receive treatment was "shameful".

David Liddell, Director of the Scottish Drugs Forum described Scotland's drug problem as "huge" and said the new drug strategy was "driving massive changes".


SEE ALSO
Government unveils drug strategy
29 May 08 |  Scotland
Huge rise in Scottish drug deaths
30 Aug 07 |  Scotland
Heroin treatment at record levels
23 Jul 07 |  Scotland
Drug-related deaths soar in Fife
21 Jun 07 |  Edinburgh, East and Fife
Birth control call for methadone
11 May 06 |  Scotland
Drug tests for parents discussed
20 Mar 06 |  Scotland
Child concern over drugs problem
07 Mar 06 |  Scotland

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