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Health / MSP on drug death figure: ‘every statistic is an individual tragically lost to their families and loved ones’

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart. Photo: Shetland News

FOUR drug-related deaths were recorded in Shetland last year – an increase of two from 2019.

Two were ruled as accidental poisoning and the other two were coded as “undetermined intent”.

Opiates or opioid were implicated in three of the drug-related deaths.

Last year’s figure was the highest since four were recorded in 2014.

New data from National Records of Scotland released today (Friday) show that across Scotland that more 1,300 people died of drug misuse in Scotland last year.

It is the seventh year in a row that Scotland has registered a record number of drug-related deaths.

Scotland continues to have the highest drug-death rate in Europe.

Local MSP Beatrice Wishart told Shetland News it is “important to remember that every statistic is an individual tragically lost to their families and loved ones”.

“There should be no stigma attached to anyone who has or is experiencing drug and/or alcohol addiction, but it is hard to get the support and treatment needed when budgets to critical support services have been cut,” she said.

“Nationally the statistics for drug-related deaths shame the Scottish Government.”

Highlands and Islands MSP Rhoda Grant meanwhile said “no part of society is free from the plague of drugs – from the sleepiest village to the busiest of cities”.

“They devastate individuals and with that family and friends,” she said.

“For too long services have been underfunded. Savage cuts made in the last decade are reflected in these figures.

“We need facilities to support those who fall victim but we also need to create opportunities that provide an alternative route to divert those who otherwise will fall victim.”

The Scottish Government has announced that £250 million will be spent on addressing the emergency over the next five years.

Drugs policy minister Angela Constable said the statistics on drug-related deaths are “heartbreaking”.

“We are working hard to get more people into the treatment that works for them as quickly as possible,” she said.

“Without treatment, there is little hope of recovery so we are funding as many community and third sector initiatives as we can so that individuals have the widest possible choice and can opt for the support which suits them and their family.”

Shetland’s substance misuse recovery service can be contacted on 01595 743006. The Recovery Hub and Community Network in Lerwick’s Pitt Lane can also be reached on 01595 744402, while anyone needing help is also encouraged to get in touch with their GP.