Michael Simmons Michael Simmons

Scotland’s drug deaths scandal is a problem no one seems able to solve

Dundee has now emerged as the drugs deaths capital of the developed world

Credit: Getty images

Scotland has a high amount of drugs deaths. But it’s not just that. It’s that Scotland suffers drugs deaths at levels unknown anywhere else in the UK or Europe – nearly four times worse than any other country for which records exist. This scandalous figure has been updated today, showing that – although it fell one per cent this year – it has trebled since the SNP came to power. It speaks to a wider collapse of public policy. And one that requires urgent attention.

The new figures published show drug-related deaths have fallen to 1,330 – just nine fewer than the year before and the second-highest ever recorded. As a share of the population this is the worst recorded by any European country – and by some margin. It is a problem that no one seems able to solve, and speaks to the way in which Scotland seems to have incubated some of the worst deprivation in the Western world.

Drugs deaths were, once, seen as a Glasgow problem. But even though things in Glasgow have become (much) worse it is Dundee that has now emerged as the drugs deaths capital of the developed world.

Drugs deaths are a problem that speaks to Scotland’s incubation of some of the worst deprivation in the Western world

Sturgeon’s government says the situation is ‘unacceptable’ but this is no new trend. This year was the first year deaths haven’t increased since 2013. More people died from drugs in Scotland in 2021 than the number that died of Aids in Gambia, deaths were nearly twice as high as those killed on the US/Mexico border and in the whole of Britain there were just 60 more deaths from car accidents than from drugs in Scotland alone.

Compared with the rest of Europe, deaths in Scotland were nearly five times higher than Sweden and nearly four times higher than Norway – the countries with the next highest death rates and places Sturgeon is keen to model an independent Scotland on.

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