Our response to the ongoing tragedy of Scottish drug deaths

The fall in drug deaths in Scotland is greatly welcomed, the first time in nearly a decade of numbers
going steadily up and breaking records year on year. However, this is a fall of just nine. That means
there are nine individuals who are still here, and who have a chance to stay here, and nine families
fewer to lose someone they love in 2021 than had the year before, and they’ll welcome this more
than anyone else. However, the fact remains there were still 1,330 lives lost to drugs and that’s an
enormous, and ongoing tragedy. Every one of these people was known and was loved, and will leave
a hole in the lives of many more than this number. More is being done than was, and more is
planned than is being done now, but in the meantime this remains the second highest number of
fatalities ever on record, five times higher than England, and by far the highest in Europe. And
despite the drop in numbers overall, deaths have gone up in certain areas (Edinburgh, Glasgow,
Dumfries and Galloway), the numbers of women to die in 2021 increased by 8%, and as always
you’re more likely to lose your life if you use drugs in areas of deprivation than in other parts of the

The issues are complex, the challenges huge, and any solutions need to be multi-faceted, robust,
responsive as well as proactive, and of course evidence-based. And prevention and education
absolutely must be at the heart of this if the trend is truly to be stemmed for future generations.
We’re really keen to step back into the positive start we’d made delivering drug education in
Scotland just before the pandemic hit, and get back to work alongside others working with young
people, families and schools. We’re so pleased to have the support of Police Scotland to bring a drug
education showcase to Edinburgh this September, bringing together policy makers, practitioners and
agencies working across Scotland, to see a showing of the film of our Theatre in Education
production of Mark Wheeller’s play about Dan, ‘I Love You, Mum – I Promise I Won’t Die’ at Trinity
Academy, followed by presentations by a panel of experts.

There’s so much good being done to prevent future drug-related deaths in Scotland, but so much
more still to be done, and we’re so pleased to be able to play our part in this.