There’s just something implausible about this

So, based on the above NRS data, after a fall of only 1% in 2021, Scotland still has a drug misuse death rate 5 times that of England and 4 times that of Norway, the next highest in the EU.

Why does it seem implausible?

Well, first, it’s quite unusual to such a gap between negative health indicators in globally quite similar areas. Life expectancy or cancer death rates fluctuate but to nowhere near this extent.

Second, the 1% fall doesn’t correlate with Police Scotland data which show that in 2021, there were 8% (116) fewer drug deaths overall than in 2020.

Third, Police Scotland figures are based on reports from police officers attending scenes of death. Classification as a suspected drug death is based on an officer’s observations and initial enquiries at the scene of death. NRS statistics are based on the presence of a proscribed drug in the body of anyone who has died and for whom a post mortem investigation was carried out, regardless of whether or not there is clear evidence that it caused the death. This may be an important factor in inflating Scottish figures and comparing with drug death rates in different countries.


Click to access drug-related-deaths-20-pub.pdf

21 thoughts on “There’s just something implausible about this

  1. Given this huge disparity between the recorded data for Scotland and those for the rest of the UK and Europe, I would have expected the Scottish Statistical Service and researchers to have looked at possible reasons, one of which could be, as you have suggested the criteria being used to classify a death as ‘drugs-related’.

    Why do you not contact the relevant agency and your MSP to raise the issue?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Which again begs the question why is the Scottish Government/SNP all over this? Once again they allow the MSM to pillory them with dodgy data. Once again they rely on bloggers and social media to expose the dodgy data, economy with the truth, unqualified statements and outright lies.

    Dereliction of duty if you ask me,

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I find this frustrating too though I expect if they did try to challenge the statistics they would be criticised for trying to avoid any blame. Maybe a FoI request to the other UK public health bodies to get some facts on what they record, how & why, and some research into other countries might be useful

      It would seem a shame if it is a Scottish commitment to openess & transparency that is penalising them by inflating drug deaths in comparison with other countries. As John says though it really doesn’t sit right that there is such a discrepancy, feels a bit like the notional deficit we have assigned to us by the UK where there is stuff assigned to us that we have no hand in

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Not sure John. There are methodological annexes on the NRS site explaining issues of definition. From having a quick look at the first of those (annex A) there does seem to be a common definition used across the UK for drugs deaths (the ‘baseline’ definition) which suggests that data at least is meaningfully comparable. Did you see something else?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks John for this detail and it seems we are measuring these drug deaths differently from this country which seems crazy….


  5. Maybe better to use Death
    Certificates, where 2 areas
    Relating to death recorded
    If not complied with no undertaker can undertake
    Funeral proceedings
    1.Primary cause of Death
    Which is compulsory for completing
    2.Secondary causes that
    May have contributed to cause
    The certificate MUST be signed by 2 no.qualified medical professionals
    Makes complete sense to use primary cause to collate and compare Stats.
    It looks very much that the Figs.for Scotland are not calculated in this manner
    England has exactly the same recording upon death certificates
    Bingo Apples compared with Apples
    And nothing there for any MSM to criticise constructively and making it very diff.for any mud they throw to stick especially long term


  6. I find the idea that Scotland and London, both with roughly the same population numbers, have such a disparity in numbers. Scotland with undoubtedly the best health service in the UK against London that has suffered slashed budgets and a mass exodus of staff from all sectors of the health care service, not only a massive a massive homeless, but additionally an off the grid population, with 3 boroughs with the worst drug problem in uk. Aye right.


  7. Whatever the rights and wrongs of these statistics we should maybe also gather information to counter Tory and labour attempts to use these as a stick to beat Scotland with. They aren’t so keen on focusing on comparisons of youth knife crime, infant mortality etc where Scotland might well be seen in a better light

    Incidentally while the tables of statistics mince my head I did notice a note saying English and Welsh drug death records exclude non residents while Scotland includes them, not sure if this would make much difference?


  8. OT – Correctly predicted John, you win the coconut, and not the Stanley Baxter Parliamo Glasgow version.
    BBC/Scotland – “Scotland’s drug deaths total down for first time in eight years”, note the distortion – Complete with the graphs, the Liz Daly brother feature, a cameo quote from Scotland’s heilan bull-shitter DRoss, but this particularly caught my eye “The upward trend had been accelerating since 2013”, note the use of past tense.

    The other oddball down the same BBC Scotland page is the later “I never enjoyed taking drugs – it was self harm” by none other than James “we’ve seen the emails” Cook.


  9. NRS records deaths as drug related when controlled substances are present even when the pathologist has ruled them out as a cause of death. England and Wales only include drugs when they are a contributory factor. We’re not comparing like with like.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ” We’re not comparing like with like ”
      As is often the case, even so, it’s not as if we’re not aware of how data is being manipulated, Covid being the very worst example of weaponising dodgy statistics to attack the administrations in Scotland, Wales and NI while at the same time gaslighting the masses.
      I’m not sure that demonstrating to people, even if you believe it to be true, that the closer you are to london the safer you are isn’t counter productive. Rather that the further you are from London the less likely that problems will be addressed and action taken, which is no advert for westminster governance. Coincidental I’m sure that the Tory heartlands and the seat of government are portrayed as the best performing area’s.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Scotland had a higher level of drug/alcohol use because of Thatcher. 25% more of consumption. 15% unemployment. Thatcher illegally and secretly took Scottish revenues and resources and funded London S/E. The 25% more of consumption. That is going down 10%? MUP took five years to implement.

    Scotland cannot tax alcohol higher. To reduce consumption. Like other countries and control sales. Local authorities received increased funds under social care but do not support proper total abstinence rehab facilities. So many closed down. Head of social work drug policies did not believe in total abstinence proper rehab care.

    People are put on methadone for years. The majority of drug deaths in Scotland are people prescribed methadone, just as bad as heroin, and taking other substances. People coming out of prison, with low tolerance, taking drugs and dying. Prison £40,000 a year. Alcohol/drugs linked to criminal behaviour. Drinks in the wit’s oot. Consumption of alcohol/drugs leads to increased poverty. Over consumption of alcohol and drugs leads to deprivation. Cocaine and ketamine are now drugs of abuse.

    Castle Craig the best rehabilitation centre in the world was refused public funding. An addict in Castle Craig (out patient) used drugs and died. His mother a nurse killed up such a row, public funding was withdrawn. Denying others excellent treatment and care. Grampian Health Board was the only Health board in Scotland that refused to fund primary care. Detox. It had to be funded privately. At intensive cost.

    The Scottish Gov have funded £250Million over 5 years to help people recover from alcohol/drug misuse. To fund proper total abstinence facilities. Doctors can refer people. The SNHS fund medical conditions that result of because of alcohol/drug misuse and earlier death.

    Alcohol poisons the human body over time. Young people are consuming less over time because of the advance of medical science and awareness. Going to the gym instead of to the pub. More health conscious. Over consumption of alcohol causes cancer and early death. Unsubscribed drugs and methadone kill people younger.

    If people need help approach NA and AA. Narcotics Anonymous and Alcohol Anonymous. They can get help, support and advice. Saving lives.


  11. Norway, Finland etc control alcohol consumption. They tax it at a high rate and restrict availability. Finland was the heart attack centre of the world. Now has a better diet and lower consumption of alcohol because of Gov action. A lower suicide rate. Higher taxation and restriction.

    Scotland does not have the powers to regulate alcohol consumption except MUP. It took five years to implement. Deaths would have been lower. Blair’s 24/7 drinking Laws did not help. The problems were made worse. Encouraging more consumption and crime. People consuming more compared to before. People consume more than fifty years ago. More availability. Price compared to income is lower. Drink in comparison to income was at a higher price level. Now it is more available. Lower taxation by (previous) comparison. Drink driving limits have lowered.


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