No fall in West Lothian drug deaths

West Lothian saw 32 drug deaths last year, the second highest in the Lothians, according to the latest figures released on Thursday.

National records for Scotland figures show that per 100,000 population the death rate from drug misuse was lower in West Lothian, at 14.7, compared to neighbouring council areas.

In Edinburgh the death rate was 18.3 per 100,000, 21.3 per 100,000 in Midlothian and 23.9 per 100,000 in South Lanarkshire.

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There has been a 10 per cent increase in drug deaths since the start of the century. In 2000-2004 the death rate per 100,000 was 4.3 in West Lothian, and 5.1 in Edinburgh.

Of the latest West Lothian figures 23 were men and nine women.

By drugs implicated, 28 deaths were attributed to opiates, 27 Benzodiazepine, 18 cocaine, one ecstasy, one amphetamine and one alcohol related.

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Across the Lothians drug death figures for last year – the first year to see a fall nationally – were Edinburgh 109, East Lothian 16 and Midlothian 23.

Scotland’s drugs policy minister, Livingston MSP, Angela Constance said the number of deaths remained “unacceptable”, and that work would continue “at pace” to address the emergency.

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The group Faces And Voices of Recovery hold a protest outside the Scottish Parliament as Scotland's drugs death figures were published on July 28, 2022 in Edinburgh. Photo by Lisa Ferguson.

She said: “These latest statistics provide yet more heart-breaking reading.

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"While there is so much more work to do, every life saved means one less family grieving and I am determined we can use this halt in the upward trend of recent years as a platform for real change.

“My focus now is on taking action and delivering new investment to improve services and get more people into the treatment which works for them.”

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Lothian Conservative MSP Miles Briggs said: “My deepest condolences are with the family and friends of those who have died due to drugs.

“In Lothian the number of people who died due to drug misuse last year has doubled from ten years ago.

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"SNP Ministers’ approach to tackling drug deaths is an unequivocal failure with drug deaths continuing to rise in Lothian for the last six years.

“If Angela Constance, the Minister for Drugs Policy, can’t reduce drug deaths in her own region of Lothian, then this does not bode well for the rest of Scotland."

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He added: “SNP and Green Ministers must get on board with the Scottish Conservatives Right to Rehab Bill, to ensure that everyone who needs rehabilitation for drugs has access to it.

“These latest shocking numbers clearly suggest that there is a particular problem in turning around the situation in Lothian. If that is the case, then SNP Ministers must consider direct control over drug services to drive urgent reforms.”