Drug deaths are up by a quarter

Drug-related deaths in Lanarkshire increased by a quarter last year according to the leatest figures.
The Scottish Government has declared drug deaths a “public health emergency”The Scottish Government has declared drug deaths a “public health emergency”
The Scottish Government has declared drug deaths a “public health emergency”

The National Records of Scotland revealed a record 163 drug-related deaths in the region in 2019, up from 130 in the previous 12 months.

Of these deaths, 95 were in North Lanarkshire and 68 were in South Lanarkshire.

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The highest proportion of deaths in Lanarkshire were among people aged between 35 and 44 – 0.5 per 1,000 population.

However, the rate among younger people, aged between 15 and 24 (0.11 per 1,000) and between 25 and 34 (0.34 per 1,000) were higher than the national average – 0.08 and 0.27 respectively.

Last year, the Scottish Government said drugs deaths was a “public health emergency” and Adam Brodie, clinical director for addiction services in NHS Lanarkshire outlined the work the health board is doing to try and tackle the issue.

He said: “In recent years, the increase in the number of people suffering a drug related death in Scotland has become a public health emergency – and is a national tragedy that is heart-breaking for those affected, and deeply damaging to our communities.

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“Work on trying to prevent and reduce harm from substance use problems in Lanarkshire is led by the North and South Lanarkshire Alcohol and Drug Partnerships (ADPs).

“The Lanarkshire Drug Related Death Prevention group which sits under the ADPs includes a coalition of representatives of people in service and their carers, statutory agencies, third sector organisations, and volunteer groups; as well as senior staff from Children’s Services, Community Justice and Social Care services, Health and Homeless services, Housing, the NHS, Police Scotland, the Scottish Ambulance Service, and the Scottish Prison Service in the statutory sector.

“Each organisation and individual involved helps us to try to address more effectively the reasons behind substance use, and helps move us towards reducing the harm illicit substance use so clearly causes to our society.

“Improving access to services for people in Lanarkshire who suffer problems with illicit substance use is a priority for us as we know that substance use treatment works for people, if they are able to make – and maintain – contact with helping services.

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“It is also important we support the people around those affected substance abuse, whether this is the person’s immediate family and carers, or the community as a whole.”

The number of drug-related deaths in Scotland increased by six per cent, from 1,187 in 2018 to 1,264 in 2019, representing the highest number since records began in 1996.

Only Greater Glasgow and Clyde (404) saw more drug-related deaths last year than Lanarkshire.

South Scotland list MSP Claudia Beamish has called for a change of political and policy direction.

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She said: “This report makes shameful reading. People struggling with drug addiction and their families have been badly let down by the Scottish Government.

“The Public Health Minister said in response to the report ‘we cannot change things overnight’, well they’ve had 13 years to tackle this issue but every year more lives are lost.

“The Scottish Government needs to take responsibility for their actions and Labour will hold the First Minister to her promise that she will come back to the Scottish Parliament in January to outline what they are going to do to reduce these unacceptable deaths.”

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