Scotland Drug Deaths Reach Record High

By McCarton Ackerman 08/27/15

Scottish officials have been accused of downplaying some uncomfortable facts.

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Officials in Scotland are trying to determine how to best handle the drug crisis they now have on their hands. New data shows that drug-related deaths in the country have reached a record-high since those figures were first officially recorded in 1996.

The National Records of Scotland report confirmed that 613 people died last year due to drug overdoses, a 16% jump from the previous year and the first time in three years that they’ve increased. About 74% of the drug deaths last year were men and the average was 40, up from 28 in 1996. More than half of the deaths were either blamed or partially blamed on heroin or morphine, while methadone was blamed in about 35% of all cases.

The Scottish government attempted to downplay the stats, claiming the drug deaths were mainly comprised of an “aging” group of long-term drug abusers who had “chronic health problems” as a result.

But some organizations are more skeptical. Calum Murray from CrossReach said alcohol and drug abuse prevention programs throughout the country were struggling "due to increasing demand for their services while central government funding diminishes."

Although he believed these alleged budget cuts were done out of necessity and not by choice, the Scottish government denies they’ve stripped any funding for these programs. A government spokesman said funding “has remained constant in recent years,” claiming that funding for alcohol and drug partnerships for drug treatment services was £30.2m in 2012-13, and has been £30.4m in the three subsequent years.

Even kids in Scotland are now battling substance abuse. It was reported last June that more than 200 Scottish kids under the age of three have been referred to alcohol and drug treatment in the past year. All were exposed to substances by a family member, including unborn babies whose mothers are addicted to drugs or alcohol.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.

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