Scotland’s Public Health Emergency Continues

12th March 2024

Suspected drug deaths in Scotland rose 9.6% last year.

Figures provided to the Scottish Government by Police Scotland show that there were 1197 suspected drug-related deaths in Scotland in 2023.  In 2022 there were 1092 suspected deaths and 1051 were confirmed as being drug-related. This suggests that the number of deaths confirmed to be drug-related to be published this summer will show that drug-related deaths have risen and that Scotland’s public health emergency continues.

Kirsten Horsburgh, Scottish Drugs Forum CEO reacted to the new statistics.  “This is the latest sign that our response to this emergency has been inadequate.  We have made progress, but there is a long way to go and what we need is a consistent and national approach.

“Full implementation of the Medication Assisted Treatment Standards would be a basis for moving forward.  However, what we are witnessing and hearing from people using services suggests there is some way to go.  We need to broaden treatment to address the needs of people experiencing harms related to cocaine, benzodiazepines and other drugs.  People need to be empowered to make choices in terms of their treatment and their support.

“Our immediate concern is with local funding decisions.  This is not a time to cut core services or commissioned services that treat or otherwise support people at risk.  There have been concerning decisions made recently, the impact of which may be felt for a long time.  That is not the approach we need.  The result of which will cost lives.”