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16 July 2019

Addaction responds to new Scottish drug related deaths statistics

Drug and alcohol charity Addaction reacts to Scotland’s annual drug-related death statistics released today. The statistics show 1187 people died of a drug related cause in Scotland in 2018. This is an increase of 28% on the previous year. 

Speaking about Scotland’s drug-related deaths figures, Associate Director of Addaction Scotland Roseanne McLuskie said:

“These statistics are as sad as they’re predictable and are not in keeping with one of Europe’s most prosperous and socially minded societies. Now there is a clear choice ahead of us. We can accept the grim reality of these increases year after year or we can make a collective choice to take action on what are entirely preventable deaths. 

“Many of the people dying now started using drugs in the 80s and 90s and have been unable to leave them behind. We work with this group every day and their collective story is one of childhood trauma, homelessness, poverty and disconnection. Many of them now have serious health problems and are at higher risk of overdose. But, the increase in deaths involving cocaine also shows there’s a new, often younger, set of people in the picture. We need to do more to understand and support this group.”

Roseanne McLuskie continued: “We are hopeful the Scottish Government’s new task force will help move us from talk to action. We cannot accept 1,000 preventable deaths. As a society, we look after those who need a hand up, even when it’s hard. It’s never too late to help someone. With the right combination of resources, policies and targeted measures, we can make a real difference.”

 “We need to make it easy and humane for people to get on an opioid replacement treatment like methadone or buprenorphine. Alongside this, we need to make sure everyone has a trained, vigilant and well-matched drugs worker to walk beside them in the critical early treatment days. And we urgently need a high visibility national rollout of the opioid overdose reversal drug Naloxone; it’s a vital line of defence for us. 

“At a policy level, we have to stop criminalising people who use drugs and connect them with treatment services instead. We are also backing calls for drug consumption rooms in Glasgow and Dundee as well as drug testing services in major cities. It’s time to put people’s health before anything else." 

To access Addaction’s services in Scotland, visit