National Records of Scotland

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934 drug-related deaths in Scotland in 2017

934 drug-related deaths in Scotland in 2017

Tuesday, 3 Jul 2018
Demography News Release Image

There were 934 drug-related deaths registered in Scotland in 2017, 66 (8 per cent) more than in 2016, according to figures released today by the National Records of Scotland (NRS). 

This is the largest number of drug-related deaths in Scotland since the series began in 1996, and more than double the figure for 2007 (455). 

These statistics are contained in “Drug-related Deaths in Scotland in 2017”, which also reveals that:

  • Males accounted for 70 per cent of the drug-related deaths in 2017.
  • There were 360 drug-related deaths of people aged 35-44 (39 per cent of all drug-related deaths), 268 deaths in the 45-54 age-group (29 per cent) and 185 drug-related deaths of 25-34 year olds (20 per cent).
  • The NHS Board areas with the most drug-related deaths in 2017 were:
    • Greater Glasgow & Clyde – 280 (30 per cent);
    • Lothian – 137 (15 per cent);
    • Lanarkshire – 102 (11 per cent); and
    • Tayside – 94 (10 per cent).
  • Opiates or opioids, such as heroin, morphine and methadone, were implicated in, or potentially contributed to, 815 deaths (87 per cent of the total number in 2017). Benzodiazepines such as diazepam and etizolam were implicated in, or otentially contributed to, 552 deaths (59 per cent).   
  • Scotland’s figures imply a drug-death rate that is higher than those reported for any EU country (though there are issues of coding, coverage and under-reporting in some countries – refer to Annex G of the publication), and roughly 2½ times that of the UK as a whole.

NRS has also today published statistics of deaths in Scotland which were caused by volatile substances, which have recently averaged around a dozen deaths per year, and deaths by helium - latterly, about half a dozen per year, on average.

The full publication Drug-related Deaths in Scotland in 2017 is available on this website.

Statistics of deaths caused by volatile substances and by helium, including breakdowns by age-group and sex, for the years from 2000 to 2017, is also available from the 'Deaths' part of this website.