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Drug-related deaths in Scotland: what is the solution?

23 September 2021
2 min read
Volume 30 · Issue 17

The drugs death figures for Scotland for 2020 were published in July 2021 and, yet again, records were broken. There were 1339 drug-related deaths in Scotland in 2020, a 5% increase on the previous year and the largest number of drug-related deaths since records began in 1996. Drug deaths in Scotland are three-and-a-half times the rate for the UK as a whole and Greater Glasgow and Clyde was the Health Board with the highest drugs death rate (National Records of Scotland, 2021). Despite politicians playing the blame game, no one really knows for sure why Scotland in general, and Glasgow in particular, has such a serious drug problem. Illegal drugs are not the only health problem associated with Glasgow. The residents of Glasgow and the surrounding areas have lower life expectancy and poorer health than the residents of the rest of the UK. Even compared to other post-industrial cities such as Liverpool and Manchester, Glasgow has significantly higher mortality and morbidity (Glasgow Centre for Population Health, 2010). Several hypotheses have been suggested to explain this; these include a greater degree of deindustrialisation compared to other cities, poor social housing and religious sectarianism.

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