Scottish drug deaths hit a new record of 1,339 – the worst in Europe

Scottish drug deaths hit a new record of 1,339 – the worst in Europe – after rising for a SEVENTH year running as Nicola Sturgeon is accused of presiding over ‘national shame’

  • Nicola Sturgeon accused of ‘national shame’ after Scottish drug deaths up again
  • Some 1,339 drug deaths last year up by 5 per cent and the worst rate in Europe
  • The rate is more than three-and-a-half times that across the rest of the UK 

Nicola Sturgeon was accused of presiding over ‘national shame’ today as Scotland’s drugs deaths hit a new record of 1,339.

The grim toll went up 5 per cent last year, the seventh annual rise in a row, as the country continued to have the worst fatality rate in Europe.

With 21.2 deaths per 1,000 people, the level is more than three-and-a-half times higher than the rest of the UK. 

Some 291 lost their lives in Glasgow alone – the worst hit area. Of the overall figure, 1,192 deaths were related in some way to opioids.

Amid outrage at the scale of the tragedy, Ms Sturgeon said it was ‘unacceptable’ and each was a ‘human tragedy’.

She insisted the Scottish Government ‘does not shirk the responsibility & we are determined to make changes that will save lives’.

The grim toll went up 5 per cent last year, the seventh annual rise in a row, as the country continued to have the worst fatality rate in Europe

Amid outrage at the scale of the tragedy, Nicola Sturgeon said it was ‘unacceptable’ and each was a ‘human tragedy’

Ms Sturgeon was accused of presiding over ‘national shame’ on the drugs deaths

She added: ‘These 2020 figures (though no less shameful because of it) predate actions set out at start of year.

‘We now have a dedicated drugs minister in @AConstanceSNP, a substantial funding commitment and action underway to eg ensure faster access to community support, treatment and rehab.

‘We will also continue to argue for reform of drugs law, which is not currently within our power.

‘Today, my thoughts are with every family who has lost a loved one – I am sorry for the loss you have suffered.’

‘However, I know that from @scotgov what is required isn’t words, but action to prevent people dying, and that is what we are determined to deliver.’

However, Scottish Conservative Leader Douglas Ross said: ‘The drugs crisis is our national shame. 

‘It is a stain on Scotland that so many of our most vulnerable people have been left without hope, crushed by a system that is thoroughly broken.

The latest official figures for 2020 show that rates have soared among the middle-aged 

‘This is not a day for political posturing but it is a simple fact that the government’s small steps are not cutting it. The crisis is getting worse and spiralling out of control.

‘We need a united national effort to make the drastic changes necessary to overhaul the broken system.’ 

In a sign that more drug users are mixing substances, benzodiazepines – use of which has soared in recent years due to easy availability – were implicated in 974 deaths in 2020.

Men were also 2.7 times more likely to die from drugs than women last year, with 973 deaths compared with 366 female victims.

Deprivation also continued to be a major factor in drug deaths, with those in the poorest areas of the country 18 times more likely to die than their more affluent counterparts, the data showed.

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