Rhoda Grant MSP Criticises Underfunding of Drugs Support Services

Rhoda Grant, Labour MSP for the Highlands and Islands has described the latest figures for drugs deaths in Scotland as ‘devastating’ for individuals and their families.

Rhoda Grant MSP said:

“No part of society is free from the plague of drugs – from the sleepiest village to the busiest of cities.  They devastate individuals and with that family and friends. 

“For too long services have been underfunded. Savage cuts made in the last decade are reflected in these figures. 

“We need facilities to support those who fall victim but we also need to create opportunities that provide an alternative route to divert those who otherwise will fall victim.”

In 2020, the number of drug related deaths in Scotland increased by 5% from the year before. The report from the National Records of Scotland, NRS, states:

This is the largest number of drug-related deaths since records began in 1996.

Other key findings show:

  • The number of drug-related deaths has increased substantially over the last 20 years – there were 4½ times as many deaths in 2020 compared with 2000.
  • Men were 2.7 times as likely to have a drug-related death than women, after adjusting for age.
  • After adjusting for age, people in the most deprived parts of the country were 18 times as likely to die from a drug-related death as those in the least deprived.
  • Almost two thirds of all drug-related deaths were of people aged between 35 and 54. The average age of drug-related deaths has increased from 32 to 43 over the last 20 years.
  • Greater Glasgow and Clyde had the highest drug-related death rate of all health board areas, followed by Ayrshire and Arran and Tayside.
  • Scotland’s drug-death rate continues to be over 3½ times that for the UK as a whole, and higher than that of any European country.

Alan Ferrier, Head of Demographic Statistics, said:

“Sadly, last year saw the highest number of drug-related deaths in Scotland since reporting began 25 years ago, and 59 more deaths than were registered in 2019.

“At the beginning of the century, the rate of drug-related deaths in Scotland’s most deprived areas was 10 times that of our least deprived areas. By 2020 this gap had increased to 18 times as high.”

You can read the whole report here:

Over time, the greatest increases in drug-related death rates have been in Dundee City, rising from 5.9 per 100,000 population in the period 2000-2004 to 43.1 per 100,000 population in 2016- 2020. Inverclyde (rate up from 11.3 to 36.7) and Glasgow City (14.5 to 39.8) had the next biggest increases.

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  1. What Rhoda Grant didn’t say was how ScotGov’s hands are tied by Westminster control, so we’re unable to implement the Portuguese model that’s been so effective. So many lives could have been saved…

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