People in most deprived areas 15 times more likely die from drugs
Scotland continues to have the highest drug death rate recorded by any country in Europe, despite deaths being less this year.
National Records for Scotland (NRS) statistics showed there were nine fewer deaths than the 1,339 recorded the previous year.
The figures are still the highest annual total on record and the country’s drug misuse rate remains around 3.7 times that for the UK as a whole.
Dundee city had the highest death rate of all local authority areas (45.2 per 100,000 population for the five-year period 2017-2021), followed by Glasgow city (44.4) and Inverclyde (35.7).
People in the most deprived areas were 15 times more likely to have died from drugs than those in the least deprived areas.
In 93% of all drug misuse deaths, more than one drug was found to be present in the body.
Angela Constance, Scotland's drugs policy minister, said: "These latest statistics provide yet more heart-breaking reading. While there is so much more work to do, every life saved means one less family grieving and I am determined we can use this halt in the upward trend of recent years as a platform for real change.
"My focus now is on taking action and delivering new investment to improve services and get more people into the treatment which works for them."
Annemarie Ward, the CEO of drugs charity Favor Scotland, said the “horrendous” figures should “shame the Scottish Government” despite the slight fall in deaths.
“The response to Scotland’s drug deaths crisis has been abysmal. The government has failed to do what’s necessary and the cost is devastating to our communities,” she added.
“Every year we are left with more lost souls and broken families. Years after the Government promised to finally step up and tackle drug deaths, it’s clear that not much has changed.
“Nicola Sturgeon said she would make it her national mission to save lives – but we’re still losing more than 1,000 people a year. The national mission is failing.”
David Liddell, CEO of Scottish Drugs Forum said that “each of these preventable deaths represents an on-going systemic failure in prevention.”
He added: “It is important to see these deaths in the context of poverty and in the failure of our education, care, criminal justice, housing and welfare systems to make effective early interventions to support vulnerable people and their families.
“The treatment system in Scotland is under scrutiny and there is clearly Government concern about the failure to implement new standards in treatment. Leadership in that area is welcomed and the need for urgent progress obvious.
“However, treatment services are at the sharp end of service provision. They seek to address the crises that people present with.
“It is the treatment services that meet people in the reality of their situation.”