Scottish drink and drug deaths at record levels
Heroin substitute methadone was linked to 47% of deaths, with heroin and morphine accounting for a third.
Justice Minister Roseanna Cunningham said the government was committed to helping serious addicts recover.
But opposition parties said the proportion of deaths related to methadone, which is prescribed to help heroin users kick their habit, showed ministers had to rethink their policy.
According to the figures:
- Heroin and/or morphine was linked to 206 deaths (35%)
- Methadone was linked to 275 deaths (47%)
- Benzodiazepines, like diazepam, were linked to 185 deaths (32%)
- Alcohol was linked to 129 deaths (22%)
- Cocaine, ecstasy and amphetamines were liked to 36, eight and 24 deaths respectively
There have been increases in deaths in six of the past 10 years.
A total of 36% of deaths were among 35 to 44-year-olds, with people aged 24 to 34 involved in 32% of cases.
Men accounted for 73%, but the increase in the number of drug-related deaths was greater for women – at 117%.
Ms Cunningham, Scotland’s minister for community safety, said £28.6 million was being invested in drug treatment over 2012-13, while naloxone kits, which help counteract the effects of opiate drug overdoses, were being handed out across Scotland.
She said: “Every one of these deaths is a tragedy and I extend my sympathies to the family members, friends and everyone connected.”
Biba Brand, of the Scottish Drugs Forum, said families seeking help for drug problems were now in their third generation.
“Drug-dependency is a chronic, relapsing condition for which there is no single solution and no quick or easy answer,” she said.
Labour justice spokesman Lewis Macdonald said: “With a large proportion of deaths involving methadone, it would appear that the approach being taken to treatment isn’t working properly and fails to prevent addicts combining drugs into lethal cocktails. It isn’t good enough for the SNP to say they are spending more money on the same approach.”
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson MSP added: “This appalling loss of life illustrates the human disaster that is the methadone programme.
“It would appear hundreds of families are being blighted by what is little more than legalised drug-taking on an industrial scale.”
Elsewhere, the figures showed a total of 33% of deaths happened in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde NHS Board area, with the proportion at 13% in Lothian.
One Comment so far:Posted by: Health Direct on August 21, 2012
Tags: Accident and Emergency, drugs classification, NHS Deaths, Risk of Drugs