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News Release

Drug-related Deaths Down for Second Consecutive Year


9 August 2011

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The number of drug-related deaths in Scotland has fallen for the second year in succession, according to statistics published today by the Registrar General.

Some 75 per cent of the 485 drug-related deaths recorded in 2010 were of men, 33 per cent were aged between 25 and 34 years of age and more than 50 per cent of deaths were linked to heroin and/ or morphine.

Although the number of deaths has reduced, the total is higher than in all but the past two years. The number of drug-related deaths rose in six of the past ten years. Until recently, the long-term trend appeared to be upwards. It is not yet clear whether it has definitely changed.

Key points include:

  • There were 485 drug-related deaths in 2010, 60 (11 per cent) fewer than in 2009 and 89 (16 per cent) fewer than in 2008.
  • The Greater Glasgow & Clyde NHS Board area accounted for 34 per cent of the deaths, and Lothian for 15 per cent.
  • Using the annual average for 2006-2010 (in order to reduce the effect on the figures of any year-to-year fluctuations), the average of 496 drug-related deaths per year represented about 0.10 per 1,000 population for Scotland as a whole. Only one NHS Board area had a higher rate: Greater Glasgow & Clyde (0.15 per 1,000 population).
  • Comparing the annual average for 2006-2010 with that for 1996-2000:
     
    • there were similar percentage increases in deaths of men and women;
    • numbers rose faster for 35-44 year olds, and for people aged 45-54, than they did for 25-34 year olds and people aged 55 and over; there was a fall in the number of deaths of people aged under 25; and
    • the NHS Board areas with the largest increases in the numbers of drug-related deaths were Greater Glasgow & Clyde, Lanarkshire, Lothian and Ayrshire & Arran.
       
  • Of the 485 drug-related deaths in 2010:
     
    • heroin and/or morphine were implicated in, or potentially contributed to, 254 deaths (52 per cent);
    • methadone was implicated in, or potentially contributed to, 174 deaths (36 per cent);
    • benzodiazepines (such as diazepam) were implicated in, or potentially contributed to, 122 deaths (25 per cent);
    • cocaine, ecstasy and amphetamines were implicated in, or potentially contributed to 33, 0 and 3 deaths respectively; and
    • alcohol was implicated in, or potentially contributed to 127 deaths (26 per cent).

The full publication Drug Related Deaths in Scotland in 2010 is available on this website.


Page last updated: 8 August 2011


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