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Drug-related deaths in Scotland highest on record

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

New statistics published today by the Scottish Government on drug-related deaths (DRDs) in Scotland show that there were 27% more DRDs in 2018 than the year before, with 1,187 drug-related deaths registered in Scotland in 2018. This is the largest number of drug-related deaths in Scotland since records began in 1996.

Opiates or opioids, such as heroin, morphine and methadone, were implicated in, or potentially contributed to, 1,021 deaths (86% of the total number in 2018). A third (33%) of the DRDs were in Greater Glasgow & Clyde, where an HIV outbreak continues to affect a severely marginalised group of people who inject drugs publicly.

Despite the high rate of DRDs and an ongoing HIV outbreak among people who inject drugs, the UK Government continue to block the opening of a Drug Consumption Room in Glasgow.[1]

Yusef Azad, Director of Strategy at NAT (National AIDS Trust), said: “The high rate of drug-related deaths constitutes a public health and humanitarian crisis which must be addressed urgently.

“These figures clearly demonstrate the urgent need for Glasgow to be allowed to open a Drug Consumption Room, which is a proven way of reducing drug-related deaths and supporting people into treatment.

“The UK Government must make allowances for Drug Consumption Rooms in law, so that everyone working to tackle drug-related deaths in Glasgow has the all tools at their disposal.”


[1] Supervised Drug Consumption Rooms (DCRs) (or supervised injection facilities) are legally sanctioned facilities where people can inject illicit drugs obtained themselves, under the medical supervision of trained staff. These facilities aim to reduce transmission of blood-borne viruses through unhygienic injecting, prevent drug-related overdose deaths and link PWIDs with drug treatment services and other health and social services. You can find more information on Drug Consumption Rooms here.

For more details or further comment, Communications Manager Charlie Alderwick: charlie.alderwick@nat.org.uk 020 7814 6727

About NAT

NAT (National AIDS Trust) is the UK’s leading charity dedicated to transforming society’s response to HIV. We provide fresh thinking, expertise and practical resources. We champion the rights of people living with HIV and campaign for change.

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