The Registrar General for Scotland has today published an Occasional Paper containing summary information about drug - related deaths in Scotland during 2000. For the first time the analyses have been presented using a new baseline definition of drug-related deaths that will be used across the United Kingdom.
Under this new definition the number of drug-related deaths in 2000 was 292, one more than in 1999 and 48 (20 per cent) more than in 1996. Within these totals, the number of deaths of persons known or suspected to be drug-dependent fell from 227 in 1999 to 220 in 2000. However this was still about a quarter more than in 1996.
Of the 292 deaths, heroin/morphine was involved in 196 (67 per cent), diazepam in 146 (50 per cent), and methadone in 55 (19 per cent).
The highest number of deaths - 104 - was in the Greater Glasgow Health Board area, with 37 in Lothian, and 31 in both Grampian and Argyll & Clyde.
Under the old definition 325 drug-related deaths would have been recorded in 2000, 15 fewer than in 1999.
The new definition was agreed by a working party set up following the publication, by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), of a report on Reducing drug related deaths. It will also be used elsewhere in the United Kingdom. The new definition differs in two significant ways from the earlier definition used by the GROS. First, for deaths where habitual drug abuse was not known or suspected, it limits inclusion to those where particular drugs are known to have been involved. Second, it includes deaths from intentional self-harm (suicides)
Deaths resulting from contaminated heroin have been excluded. It had originally been intended to include such deaths in the baseline but there are possible problems of coverage. In Scotland GROS tried to identify all the cases associated with the outbreak in 2000 caused by clostridium novyi infection; 22 cases had been identified when the 2000 deaths file was closed in May 2000, but it is not clear whether additional deaths have subsequently been identified as part of this outbreak which is now the subject of a public inquiry. Moreover it is not clear whether sporadic cases, either in the past or in the future, could be readily identified. The distribution of the 22 cases identified on the GROS database was as follows: Greater Glasgow, 18; Grampian, 2; Fife, 1: Lanarkshire, 1.
Occasional Papers issued by the Registrar General for Scotland are made available primarily through the GROS website (www.gro-scotland.gov.uk) though paper copies may be obtained from Statistics Customer Services using our Contact Form.
Media copies are available from the Scottish Executive.