Scotland’s drug deaths can no longer be explained by the so-called Trainspotting generation, according to Dave Barrie, Service Manager at Addaction Dundee.
Speaking to The Times, Mr Barrie, pointed to official figures showing that the biggest cohort for drug-related deaths last year was that of 35 to 44-year-olds, with a rise from 327 in 2016 to 360. There were 268 deaths among 45 to 54-year-olds, up from 214 in 2016.
Statisticians class these cohorts as “older drug users” and the Scottish Government has frequently stated that Scotland’s drug death problem “is about a legacy of older drug users”. The Trainspotting generation label was coined after the publication of Irvine Welsh’s 1993 novel of the same name, which is set in Edinburgh in the mid-1980s and was adapted for the film starring Ewan McGregor. The people who used drugs in that generation would now be in their late forties and fifties.
Mr Barrie insisted that the 35 to 44-year-old cohort could not be described as old. His Addaction service in Dundee is supporting families who have lost multiple children to overdoses and schoolchildren who have lost mothers.
He told BBC Radio Scotland: “In the news they talk about this ageing cohort. But the people that are passing away aren’t always old. These are people in their thirties and forties so the old-age ticket doesn’t always apply here. We’re supporting families who have lost two or three children through overdose, and that is devastating for families and friends. We’re supporting families with children who have lost mothers who are struggling to cope at school because they’ve lost their mum to overdose.”
Scotland has the highest rate of drug deaths in Europe with a record 934 fatalities last year and Mr Barrie fears the number could surpass 1,000 this year.
Mr Barrie described the drug death epidemic as a national crisis. “It’s ripping the heart out of families and communities, not only in Dundee but around the country,” he said. “We’re looking at more than 1,000 people losing their lives in Scotland this year. Something needs to be done urgently.”