National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

1,187 drug-deaths in 2018: up 27 per cent in a year

1,187 drug-deaths in 2018: up 27 per cent in a year

Tuesday, 16 Jul 2019
Demography News Release Image

There were 1,187 drug-related deaths registered in Scotland in 2018, 253 (27 per cent) more than in 2017, 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 2008 (574). 

These statistics are contained in 'Drug-related Deaths in Scotland in 2018', which also reveals that:

  • Males accounted for 72 per cent of the drug-related deaths in 2018.
  • There were 442 drug-related deaths of people aged 35-44 (37 per cent of all drug-related deaths), 345 deaths in the 45-54 age-group (29 per cent) and 217 drug-related deaths of 25-34 year olds (18 per cent).
  • The NHS Board areas with the most drug-related deaths in 2018 were:
    • Greater Glasgow & Clyde – 394 (33 per cent);
    • Lothian – 152 (13 per cent);
    • Lanarkshire – 130 (11 per cent); and
    • Tayside – 109 (9 per cent).
  • Opiates or opioids, such as heroin, morphine and methadone, were implicated in, or potentially contributed to, 1,021 deaths (86 per cent of the total number in 2018).   Benzodiazepines such as diazepam and etizolam were implicated in, or potentially contributed to, 792 deaths (67 per cent).   
  • Scotland’s figures imply a drug-death rate that is nearly three times that of the UK as a whole. It is also higher than that reported for any other EU country. (However, countries differ in how deaths are recorded and coded, and there may be under-reporting in some cases– see Annex G of the publication).

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 report 'Volatile Substance Abuse and Helium Deaths' is available on this website