Two People are Dying Every Day From Overdoses in Scotland

by Calum Armstrong

The Scottish Drugs Forum has revealed that almost two people are dying every day from overdoses – according to the latest drug-related death figures.

In a press release, the SDF condemned the implications of the data, declaring a ‘national tragedy’ in Scotland where it appears as if public health services are failing to manage a crisis:

The 706 deaths announced today are individual tragedies for those who have died and for their friends and family.  The impact of a death on parents, partners and children can be devastating.  These deaths are also a national tragedy for Scotland.  These are the ultimate indicators of Scotland’s health inequalities. 

In a press release issued today, David Liddell – CEO at Scottish Drugs Forum – condemned the Scottish governments failure to manage the rising numbers of overdose deaths.

The deaths are heavily concentrated in our poorest communities and if you look behind the lives of most people who have died you will find a life of disadvantage often starting with a troubled early life.

Rather than focusing on individuals and blaming their ‘lifestyle’ we need to understand how we as a society have failed and continue to fail so many people.

These deaths are not in themselves inevitable; they are preventable.  We know enough about how to protect people and the times at which people are at particular risk but our systems and services are failing to prevent these deaths.

Liddell, in an impassioned call to action to stem the tide of unnecessary casualties, cites the widening gap between Scotland’s addiction treatment methods and those of their compatriots on the continent.

These changes are less likely in an environment with reducing resources. The preservation of life should be a primary aim for services, it should also be a national aspiration.  We speak eloquently about equalities and inclusion in Scotland.  These figures represent a national challenge to our image of ourselves and an opportunity to show that we, as a society, care.

Indeed, 2015’s total of 706 drug-related deaths is an all time high for Scotland, and, with the nation’s valium crisis providing the subject of a recent BBC documentary, things are surely moving beyond crisis point.

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Words by Calum Armstrong tweets @vf_calum

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