This website is now part of Public Health Scotland. Publications released after 16 March 2020 are now published on the Public Health Scotland website.
Improving health
Previously NHS Health Scotland

Drug related deaths are increasing in Scotland -2016 (the latest year for which figures are available) saw the largest number ever recorded for the third year in a row.  Half of these deaths happen to people who live in our most deprived communities. 

NHS Health Scotland welcomes the publication of the National Drug-Related Deaths Database (Scotland) Report.  Providing detail about the circumstances behind these numbers, this report gives a fuller picture of what might be going on to drive drug related deaths in Scotland.

Dr Andrew Fraser, Director of Public Health Science at NHS Health Scotland said:

 “Drug related deaths are a tragedy.  The sudden loss to individuals, families and communities is huge – half of the people who died had dependent children.  What is even more of a tragedy is that these deaths are avoidable.  Yet the figures suggest we can expect more deaths year on year.  To avoid them, we need to look beyond the drugs, and ask about the circumstances people have been living in.

 “That is why this research into the lives of people who die a drug related death is so important.  As is research into what works to reduce harm – and our own studies are an important part of this. 

 The challenge now is to apply what we know to work.  That might mean a change in current approaches, unbound by what has gone in the past, and it will most definitely mean listening to service users.  I believe we can prevent harm from drugs.  With the best use of available resource and partnerships that are in place, we can design pathways that will not only be fit for purpose, but will save lives.”