Is the drugs death crisis deepening or coming to an end naturally?


I agree fully that we should do all we can, now, to reduce drug deaths.

Isn’t it encouraging that the SNP is supporting a Tory bill to do that even though they won’t support the safe injection strategy proven to be effective in hundreds of studies.

But, this ‘crisis’ may be burning itself out. See these graphs:

age and gender

In a BBC Scotland report from December 2020:

The National Records of Scotland statistics are six months late after a huge backlog in processing toxicology results and delays due to Covid-19. They show that two-thirds of those who died were aged 35 to 54. The report said the median average age of drug-related deaths had gone up from 28 to 42 over the past two decades. However, there was also an increase in deaths among 15 to 24 year olds – from 64 in 2018 to 76 in 2019.

That the graphs divide the data simply into over 35 and under 34 groups slightly conceals the evidence that Scotland’s exceptionally high drug deaths are due to a wave of death affecting those whose lives were ruined by Tory economic policies from 1979 to 1997 and, crucially, that the wave already shows signs of fading out as the older members, 55-64 disappear from the data:

Even were we to do nothing and I’m by no means suggesting that, the shortened lives inevitable after a life of drug abuse, mean that 35-55 group do not have long even if they avoid overdose and the level of deaths among the currently under 34, not unusual in other countries, will become the norm.


9 thoughts on “Is the drugs death crisis deepening or coming to an end naturally?

  1. DRoss’s Bill to help drug users ?
    This is a bit of a U-turn from the heartless b*stard who was against safe-injection rooms , who clearly wanted drug users ( except Michael Gove ) to take responsibility for their lives .
    Where’s the catch ? Cui bono ? Tory donors ?

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Exactly cui Bono.
      From Granny farming to junky rehab, the Tory supporters know how to milk the taxpayers for services which should be a local/national government responsibility.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Tory politicians care about drug users . . . . . Aye so they do . . .

      Here’s a sentence I’ve never heard. . .

      “I’m voting Tory to reduce drug deaths”

      Liked by 2 people

  2. The SNP Gov has just put in £250Million (5years) to drug services. More than the Tories ever did. Putting people on methadone for years. The Tories cut NHS funding. Total hypocrites. The situation is worse under the Tory governance. A reason Report confirmed it in the South. Instead of helping people get well. It should be available under the NHS. Doctors should be able to refer people. To proper total abstinence, one chance , rehabilitation services. Instead of methadone for years.

    The Tory/unionists council put nothing into drug rehabilitation service. Wasting £Millions building empty shops and offices. Instead of funding essential services. Wasting £Million of public money.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. There is no getting away from the awful statistics on deaths due to drugs misuse in Scotland relative to other places.

    Whatever the underlying cause and whoever’s to blame, the prime objective of course must be to: (a) find solutions in the short term for those at immediate risk; and (b) find systemic solutions for the longer term to avoid any repeat of this situation. As with much else in public health, I expect there is no single silver bullet solution either for the short or the long term, and positive change over time will not be achieved quickly.

    What these especially bad Scottish statistics may do however is to divert the median political attention away from the yes less bad but still concerning situation elsewhere in the UK. What follows – for perspective – is taken from the latest ONS report on drug related deaths in England and Wales.


    It reports that the North East region (population c. 2.4m) has a statistically significantly higher rate of deaths relating to drug misuse than all other English regions: ‘In 2019, the highest rates for males and females were observed in the North East (134.2 male and 57.1 female deaths per million), while the lowest rates were in the East of England (49.0 male and 18.4 female deaths per million)’. Should a factor of three difference within England be acceptable?

    ‘The North East has had the highest rate of drug misuse of any English region FOR THE PAST SEVEN CONSECUTIVE YEARS.’

    For England and Wales combined: ‘… deaths involving cocaine INCREASED FOR THE EIGHTH SUCCESSIVE YEAR, by 7.7% for male deaths and by 26.5% for female deaths.’

    And again for England and Wales, the ONS reports: ‘New analysis by deprivation shows that, in the last decade, rates of drug poisoning deaths have been higher in the most deprived areas of England and Wales compared with the least; this is particularly the case among those aged in their forties where RATES REACH PEAKS THAT ARE AT LEAST 5.5 TIMES HIGHER THAN IN THE MOST DEPRIVED AREAS.’

    This ONS evidence would seem to show that Tory policies and actions emerging from Westminster on the issue of drugs misuse in England – despite Westminster’s untrammelled powers – is hardly a model of success! And without reform from Westminster, is it just a matter of time before areas like the NE of England inherit Scotland’s unwanted, awful mantle?

    Liked by 6 people

    1. The roots for Scotland’s grim drugs problem lie in the de-industrialisation policies of the Thatcher Era when heavy industry – steel-making, coal mining, shipbuilding etc – was targeted in order to reduce the influence of trade unions, causing mass unemployment and public disillusion across large swathes of Scotland. NE England suffered the same fate, so it’s no surprise that it too suffers disproportionately from drug problems to this day. A whole generation was effectively told they had no future and, with little support or sympathy from UK Gov, they turned to drink and drugs for solace.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. A good perspective, but your “…is it just a matter of time before areas like the NE of England inherit Scotland’s unwanted, awful mantle?” does raise the question of just such an expectation, hence this being pushed as the media’s latest headline issue for Scotland.

      Had a quick scan at the latest BBC Web article featuring on both main and politics pages, unusually long but what jumped out immediately was the comparative table featuring UK v Scotland v A, B, C etc., where the footnote clarified the comparison was between 2 year old v 4 year old data pre the pandemic.

      We’ve been here before over Covid infections, localised peaks hidden in the national average for England or the UK, this looks very much like another “Look, a Squirrel…” piece from the Spin Unit…

      Liked by 2 people

  4. None of the Tory/unionists councils put the (extra) funding given under social care into proper total abstinence rehab facilities. The extra funding to be used from the SNHS budget. They are just as culpable for lack of proper facilities. They were supposed to provide facilities. Deflecting as usual trying to blame others. Labour did not support MUP to cut consumption and save lives.

    Liked by 1 person

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