Research highlights problems in Scottish drug services

Only one in eight people in Scotland who died in 2003 due to
drug use were in contact with specialist drug services shortly
before their death, according to new research, writes
Amy Taylor

The national investigation into all drug-related deaths in
Scotland in 2003 was ordered by the deputy justice minister, Hugh
Henry, after a record number of such deaths, 382, were recorded in

It found that only 13 per cent of 317 of people who died due to
drug use in 2003 were in contact with specialist services in the
six months before they died, and that only 22 per cent were in
touch with social work agencies. A quarter of those who died were
not in contact with any services in the six months before they
passed away.

More than half of the social work contacts identified were in
Glasgow and there was limited social work involvement in other

Recommendations for action from the Scottish Advisory Committee
on Drug Misuse’s working group on drug-related deaths were
published alongside the investigation. They include for the
Scottish Executive to develop and fund the introduction and
evaluation of new or more innovative treatments across Scotland.
Ministers will publish an action plan based on the recommendations
later this year.

The annual statistics on drug-related deaths for 2004, due to be
published shortly, will show that the number of deaths has
increased again despite a fall in 2003.

The National Investigation into Drug Related Deaths 2003 and
copies of the recommendations from:

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