Edinburgh drug deaths hit record number last year as new figures published

Drug-related deaths rose by almost a fifth in Edinburgh last year as a slight drop was recorded across Scotland, new data has revealed.

Annual figures released by National Records Scotland (NRS) for 2021 show there were 109 deaths as a result of drug misuse in the Capital, up from 92 the year previous – the highest figure ever recorded in the city.

And it means that in the last decade, drug deaths have more than doubled in Edinburgh from the 48 reported in 2011.

The 18.5 per cent rise locally last year is in contrast to a modest decline seen nationally, with nine fewer drug deaths across the country than the 1,339 reported in 2020.

Drug-related deaths rose by almost a fifth in Edinburgh last year as a slight drop was recorded across Scotland, new data has revealed.

However, last year still saw the second highest number of overdoses in Scotland, which remains the drug death capital of Europe.

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Edinburgh had the lowest age-standardised drug misuse death rate of all Scottish cities with 18.3 per 100,000 of the population in the five years from 2017. Dundee suffered the highest number nationally with 45.2, followed by Glasgow with 44.4 and Inverclyde with 35.7.

Of the capital’s 109 fatalities caused by narcotic misuse, the majority – 79 – were male with the remaining 30 female.

In most cases the cause was ‘accidental poisoning’ with this attributed to 98 deaths, whilst five came as a result of ‘intentional self-poisoning’, four by ‘drug abuse’ and two recorded as ‘undetermined intent’.

Opiates such as heroin, methadone and codeine were linked to 96 of the drug deaths in Edinburgh, 42 were linked to cocaine use, four with alcohol and two with ecstasy. In some cases multiple substances found in the body can be attributed to a death.

Julie Ramsay, Vital Events Statistician at NRS, said: “Drug misuse deaths have increased substantially over the past few decades – there were more than five times as many deaths in 2021 compared with 1996. 2021 is the first year since 2013 that drug misuse deaths have not increased.

“In 2021, after adjusting for age, people in the most deprived areas were more than 15 times as likely to have a drug misuse death as those in the least deprived areas. This ratio has widened over the past two decades.”