The majority of drugs deaths occur among people who have experienced considerable adversity in their lives, often from a young age, research has found.
In a report focused on drug deaths in Tayside last year, published by the local health board, 62 out of 78 people (79.5%) who died as a result of using drugs were recorded as having experienced at least one adverse event during their lifetime.
The study also found that just under half (46.1%) of the total number of drug death casualties had been in prison or had been on remand at least once in adulthood.
A majority of those who died from drug consumption were also found to have suffered from a mental health issue at some point – with 38 individuals (48.7%) known to be suffering from an existing mental health condition at the time of their death.
Findings in the report also highlighted an inequality gradient associated with drug deaths, with 60% of deaths occurring in areas of greatest socioeconomic deprivation.
Although the statistics relate to Tayside drug deaths, the report stressed that:
The rising number of drug deaths both locally and nationally is of considerable public health concern.
“Rarely an independent choice”
Dr Emma Fletcher, who chairs the Tayside Drug Death Review Group, said:
The report shows that the majority of drug deaths occur in people who have experienced considerable life adversity, often from a young age.
Problematic drug use is rarely an independent choice by an individual but the result of complex social, economic and health factors.
The number of drug deaths is increasing nationally and globally and therefore altering this trend locally is extremely challenging.
All organisations and agencies, both locally and nationally, have to work together as a priority with people, families and communities affected to halt this current trend and reduce the incidence of drug deaths in future.
People should not be dying as a result of drug use and in Tayside we are committed to seeing these current trends changed.
Public health minister Joe FitzPatrick, meanwhile, said:
This report provides further evidence of the complex set of challenges we face in trying to tackle the number of people who lose their lives in Scotland because of drug use…
To determine what more can be done, I am convening an expert group to advise on what further changes, in practice or in law, could help save lives and reduce harm.
This will include consideration of what could be done within the bounds of existing legislation and I will announce further details shortly.
The UK Government must recognise what Scotland faces in drug deaths is an emergency but if they will not act we believe that responsibility in this area should be devolved so that future decisions on these issues would be for the Scottish Parliament to consider.
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?