Specialists fail to reach needy Scots

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 research.

The national investigation into all drug-related deaths in Scotland
in 2003 was ordered by the deputy justice minister Hugh Henry after
a record 382 such deaths were recorded in 2002.

The following year the figure was 317, but only 13 per cent were in
contact with specialist services in the six months before they
died, and only 22 per cent were in touch with social work

A quarter of those who died were not in contact with any services
in the six months leading up to their death.

More than half of the social work contacts identified were in
Glasgow and there was limited social work involvement with drug
users in other areas.

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 despite falling in 2003.

  • The National Investigation into Drug Related Deaths
    and copies of the recommendations can be obtained from www.scotland.gov.uk

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