Drink and Drugs News DDN July 2018 | Page 4

‘ We know how to prevent drug-related deaths – and yet we don ’ t do all that we could to prevent them .’ david liddell
‘ Our goals are to protect our youth ...’



SCOTLAND HAS YET AGAIN RECORDED its highest ever number of drug-related deaths , at 934 . The 2017 figure is 8 per cent up on the previous year ( DDN , September 2017 , page 4 ) and more than double the number from a decade ago . Scotland ’ s drug-death rate remains the highest of any EU country , and is around two and a half times that of the UK as a whole .
Almost 40 per cent of the deaths were of people aged 35-44 and just under 30 per cent were in the 45-54 age group . Males accounted for 70 per cent of the deaths . As in previous years , the Greater Glasgow and Clyde NHS board area recorded the highest proportion , at 30 per cent . Opioids were implicated in ‘ or potentially contributed to ’ 87 per cent of the total number of deaths , with benzodiazepines implicated in or potentially contributing to 59 per cent .
The ‘ sheer toll ’ of drug-related deaths represented a ‘ staggering weight carried by families and communities and the wider Scottish nation ’, said Scottish Drugs Forum CEO David Liddell . ‘ Just over 10,000 people have now died since these figures were first issued in 1996 . That is the equivalent of the entire population of a Scottish town like Fort William or Stranraer or Methill or Haddington . Last year was a record high – and so was the year before and the year before that .’
Although Scots were now more than five times more likely to die from drugs than in traffic accidents the deaths were ‘ entirely preventable ’, he stated . ‘ We know how to prevent drug-related deaths – and yet we don ’ t do all that we could to prevent them .’ It was vital that people had access to ‘ high quality healthcare and support ’, he stressed , as well as being removed from ‘ the dangers of unregulated street drugs ’.
‘ A new Scottish drugs strategy is due to be announced – imagine it was based on the notion that people had the right to life ,’ he said .
Although the vast majority of deaths were among men , the percentage increases between 2003-07 and 2013-17 were far higher for women – at more than 200 per cent – and a separate report suggests that reasons may include increasing rates of physical and mental health problems among women who use drugs , as well as factors such as abusive or coercive relationships , sex work and the impact of welfare reform .
Meanwhile , a new report from Blenheim says that uneven provision of naloxone is contributing to high rates of fatal overdose among prisoners in the period immediately after release , a situation CEO John Jolly described as ‘ totally inexcusable ’. ‘ Too many people are falling through the gaps and too many people are dying ,’ he said . Drug-related deaths in Scotland in 2017 at www . nrscotland . gov . uk Why are drugrelated deaths among women increasing in Scotland ? at www . gov . scot
Failure by design and disinvestment : the critical state of custodycommunity transitions at blenheimcdp . org . uk John Jolly writes about prison naloxone provision on page 14

‘ We know how to prevent drug-related deaths – and yet we don ’ t do all that we could to prevent them .’ david liddell

RECORD-HIGH PRODUCTION levels for opiates and cocaine , coupled with expanding drug markets , mean the drugs are now a ‘ bigger global threat to public health and law enforcement than ever before ’, according to UNODC ’ s latest World drug report . Global opium production grew by 65 per cent between 2016 and 2017 , the highest estimate ever recorded by UNODC , with production in Afghanistan increasing by 87 per cent ( DDN , December / January , page 4 ). Global cocaine manufacture , meanwhile , also reached its highest ever level in 2016 , at an estimated 1,410 tons . World drug report 2018 at www . unodc . org
THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY FOR WALES has approved the introduction of minimum unit pricing ( MUP ) for alcohol . Approval of the ‘ landmark ’ Public Health ( Minimum Price for Alcohol ) ( Wales ) Bill , which was introduced last year ( DDN , November 2017 , page 4 ) means that MUP will become law as soon as it has received Royal Assent . Wales sees around 55,000 alcohol-related hospital admissions a year , at a cost to the NHS of more than £ 150m .
Three in five people sent to prison for sentences of less than six months report a drug or alcohol problem on arrival , according to FOI data obtained by the Revolving Doors Agency . The data demonstrates the need for a ‘ radical new approach ’, says the organisation , which has also published a report on the ‘ critical ’ role of police and crime commissioners in addressing substance misuse . ‘ This is robust evidence of the need to tackle problems earlier to prevent the cycle of crisis and crime ,’ said chief executive Christina Marriott . Spotlight on substance misuse : emerging good practice across PCC areas at www . revolving-doors . org . uk
ENOUGH ALCOHOL WAS SOLD in Scotland in 2017 for every adult to exceed the weekly guideline by 40 per cent ‘ every week of the year ’, according to NHS Scotland . More than ten litres of pure alcohol per adult were sold , says Monitoring and evaluating Scotland ’ s alcohol strategy , equivalent to 19.6 units per person per week . ‘ With rates of alcohol-specific deaths increasing in recent years , and alcohol-related hospital admissions four times higher than they were in the 1980s , it is more important than ever that we continue to monitor alcohol price , consumption and alcohol-related harms to inform and evaluate policy ,’ said lead author Lucie Giles . Report at www . healthscotland . scot
THE CANADIAN SENATE has voted through the Cannabis Act ( DDN , June , page 4 ), meaning that adults will now be able to legally purchase , grow and use a limited quantity of the drug . ‘ I am proud of the work accomplished by our government , parliamentarians , and all Canadians who contributed to this important shift in our country ' s approach to cannabis ,’ said justice minister and attorney general , Jody Wilson-Raybould . ‘ Our goals are to protect our youth from the health and safety risks of using cannabis and keep criminals and organised crime from profiting from its production , distribution and sale .’ UNODC , however , issued a statement saying that it ‘ regretted ’ the decision , which would undermine

‘ Our goals are to protect our youth ...’

JOdy WilsOn-RaybOuld
the ‘ international legal drug control framework and respect for the rules-based international order ’.
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