Drug death statistics reveal rising toll

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Drug-related deaths in Falkirk doubled last year with the majority related to heroin or morphine.

The shock statistics reveal that in the last ten years the number of deaths in this area involving drugs has almost trebled.

MSP Angus MacDonald

MSP Angus MacDonald

In 2015 there were 14 drug-related deaths but in the following 12 months this rose to 29.

A decade earlier the figure had been 10.

Across Scotland the number of drug deaths is at a record level, increasing by 23 per cent from 706 in 2015 to 867 in 2016.

Partner organisations working to deal with the issue in Forth Valley include Police Scotland, local authorities and health services.

Following a spike in drug deaths in the first half of 2016, a problem action group was set up by Forth Valley Alcohol and Drug Partnership (FVADP) to look closer at the issue.

However, no details of its findings have been revealed.

Yesterday (Wednesday), a spokesperson for Falkirk Council said: “We are always concerned to hear of any deaths involving drugs as it not only affects the individual but many family members and friends as well.

“We already work with a number of other agencies to help reduce or prevent any harm as a result of the use of drugs (including alcohol and prescribed drugs), which includes distributing information and alerts where we believe there may be those at risk. Also a number of front line staff have been trained to administer a first response in an overdose situation.

“We meet regularly with partners to review any death involving and see what we can do to prevent future events like these from happening.

“Any loss of life in these circumstances is always sad and unfortunate and we will continue to do everything we can to prevent further deaths from occurring.”

A FVADP spokesperson said reducing deaths was its key priority.

They said: “A detailed review is carried out into every drug death to establish the circumstances and identify any areas which may require further action. The Partnership meets regularly to share information and discuss any emerging risks and trends associated with drug use in Forth Valley.”

Angus MacDonald, Falkirk East MSP, said: “These statistics are the heart-breaking reality of the challenges we face when dealing with drug misuse in Falkirk district and across Scotland. Make no mistake, every life lost to drug-related issues is a life taken too soon and my sympathies are with those who have been affected by those losses.

“However, Scotland’s unhealthy relationship with drugs stretches back decades, and it is not an easy task dealing with the ongoing issues while fighting the legacy created by drugs in our communities.”

The MSP added: “The Scottish Government is committed to working with their partners to reduce the damage being done to individuals, families and communities because of drugs, and will continue to support those seeking help by providing access to, and encouraging engagement with, services in order to further progress effective ways to tackle drug misuse.”

The FVADP spokesperson added: “The Partnership continues to support and promote the Forth Valley Naloxone programme which can and does save lives. A key part of this is providing training to local service users and their families so that they are equipped to deal with an overdose in an emergency.

“A wide range of services are available across Forth Valley to help people with drug and alcohol problems. including dedicated rehabilitation and recovery support.”