Deaths in Scotland due to the misuse of a combination of drugs continues to rise. 934 people lost their lives in this way in 2017 an increase of 8% from 2016.
Scotland has been collecting statistics on drug related deaths since 1996 in an effort to target support where it is most needed.Drug Related Deaths in Scotland
Although males make up the largest number of deaths the sharpest increase is actually amongst the female population. The age group most affected is 35-44 then 45-54 so it may be an older generation of habitual drug users who are dying from the results of long term misuse.
Scotland now tops the league in the EU for drug related deaths, however, it should also be noted that not every country uses the same recording procedure. All UK countries do use the same coding and Scotland is well above the other nations.
The NHS area with the highest number of drug related deaths is Greater Glasgow and Clyde.
As you can see from these figures Orkney had 1 death in 2017, however, closer examination of the statistics in the report shows that we cannot be complacent because problem drug users in the islands may vary from 30 up to 110.
A change in how coding was recording drug related deaths in 2011 means that the figures being produced in Scotland are more accurate compared to what may be the case in some EU countries. Death Certificates and Coding the Causes of Death There is now a wider range of drugs coming under this category as new ones are manufactured. Pathologists are also able to detect small quantities of substances which would not have been found a few years ago.
Looking at the statistics year by year shows fluctuations in the number of people dying from these causes, however, the trend is upwards.
Across Scotland the drugs most implicated in the deaths were:
Benzodiazepines – 59%
Heroin/morphine – 50%
Methadone – 47%
It should be noted, therefore, that many of the drugs involved in the deaths may be prescribed ones and not all from illegal sources.
Orkney Drug Dogs
It aims to limit the controlled drugs which are making their way into Orkney with the provision of trained drugs dogs which are able to detect where drugs are.
A spokesperson from Orkney Drug Dogs said:
“Orkney Drugs Dog is a relatively newly formed charity with the aim of providing a service within Orkney that will work with our schools, college and community groups to raise awareness of the harm caused by the misuse of illegal drugs.
“We will assist individuals and their families to gain support from the appropriate services within our community, where illegal substance misuse is disrupting individual or family life through health deterioration or criminal activities.
“We plan to have our Handler and Dog in position by late autumn this year and through a Memorandum of Understanding with Police Scotland, they will be working alongside regular officers in the detection of drugs.
“We hope that by doing this, we will assist in “Keeping Orkney Safe for Future Generations”.
The organisation has the support of many in the community and works collaboratively with others to improve education and information about drug misuse.
ORKNEY DRUGS DOG
c/o 39a Victoria Street,
Reporter: Fiona Grahame