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Drug addiction statistics Scotland

Posted on June 28, 2022

Drug addiction statistics Scotland

Drug addiction is a big problem in Scotland, and the nation consistently records higher rates of substance misuse than other UK countries. It affects thousands of people, and the implications of this on public health are very serious.

Thousands of people seek help in Scotland for drug-related problems, and there are plenty of facilities throughout the country to support and help these individuals. However, the number of those who seek help does not match that of how many are struggling.

Those who struggle with drug misuse or addiction are strongly encouraged to seek help. Drug rehab is a daunting but life-changing experience that can help individuals regain physical and psychological independence from drug use and re-establish a healthy lifestyle.

What is the extent of drug addiction in Scotland?

Unfortunately, drug addiction affects thousands of people across Scotland, and there is ample evidence which demonstrates how widespread a problem it is.

A National Statistics Publication for Scotland released in 2020 [1] found that 10,757 people in Scotland were registered on the Scottish Drug Misuse Database.

However, the actual extent of drug misuse is likely to be much larger. The latest estimates suggest that there could be between 55,800 and 58,900 people with drug problems in Scotland [2].

Of these individuals, the majority belong to older age groups, and this trend in data has become more evident over recent years. In 2007, the percentage of those aged 35 or over on the drug misuse database was 29%, and this rose to 53% in 2019 [1].

The same report also found heroin to be the most common drug being misused.

How prevalent are drug-related health problems in Scotland?

The prominence of drug addiction throughout Scotland is an important figure to know, but it is even more important to see the impact that this rate of substance misuse is having on the population’s health.

According to the National Records of Scotland [3], deaths due to drug misuse have steadily increased over the last 30 years. In 1996, there were 244 drug-related deaths, and this number swelled to 1,339 in 2020.

Similarly to the demographics of drug use mentioned above, the same study found that the largest increase of drug-related deaths occurred within the 35 to 44 age group. This age group has had the highest rate of death since 2011, reaching 61 per 100,000 people in 2020.

Over the course of 2021, 74% of those who died as a result of drug misuse were male, with the worst affected areas being Glasgow (328 deaths), Lanarkshire (139 deaths), and Ayrshire (109 deaths) [4].

But drug misuse does not only impact public health through death rates. In 2021, Public Health Scotland [5] recorded 14,310 drug-related hospital admissions in Scotland across the previous year, a rate of 270 admissions per 100,000 people.

In Scotland, drug abuse conditions are the sixth highest cause of early or premature death [6].

While heroin has been found to be the most common substance misused in Scotland, the substances related to the most deaths are opioids. In 2019, these substances were linked with 77% of all drug-related deaths in Scotland [7].

Treatment for drug-related problems statistics in Scotland

In order to effectively tackle drug misuse in Scotland, it is essential to know the extent and nature of drug addiction treatment.

Between April 2019 and March 2020, a total of 17,843 people in Scotland began treatment for a drug-related issue. 94.7% of these people began treatment in three weeks or less after enquiring [8].

How does treatment for drug addiction work in Scotland?

Throughout Scotland, there are a variety of facilities available to help individuals face and overcome their drug-related problems. Drug rehab can be a daunting prospect for those who are struggling, but it is the most effective way of beating up substance abuse.

Drug detox

Most forms of drug rehab involve an initial stage of drug detox. While some substances like cocaine do not trigger physical dependency, most do. Therefore, individuals will first need to quit their consumption and cleanse their bodies of the substance they have been using.

This first stage of treatment can be very difficult. Most people will experience withdrawal when they become sober, triggering a range of uncomfortable and dangerous symptoms. Heroin, for example, can cause quite distressing heart and breathing problems.

For this reason, those who undergo detox must do it under the supervision of medical professionals. This way, their health can be monitored, and Benzodiazepines can be prescribed to dampen withdrawal symptoms and provide relief when necessary.

Drug therapy

Following detox, the focus of treatment shifts to the underlying reasons for an individual’s consumption habit. To do this, rehab employs a range of therapy activities which target addictive triggers and help individuals understand them.

Triggers can be psychological, behavioural, and social, and therapy can therefore adapt to suit whatever support an individual needs. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a popular option, helping individuals spot and treat harmful thought processes.

A variety of coping mechanisms are practised as a result of therapy, including mindfulness, breathing techniques, and exercise.

Drug aftercare

Returning home after rehab is incredibly risky, and those who complete treatment are supported in maintaining their progress during this challenging period of their recovery.

Being amongst their addictive triggers again means individuals are likely to need help in resisting relapse.

HALT, for example, is one method which reminds them to consider whether they are hungry, angry, lonely, or tired when they experience cravings. This helps them try other things to gain relief, rather than immediately resorting to drug use.

Getting help with Rehab recovery

The facts and figures regarding drug addiction in Scotland highlight how much of a problem it is. The difference between those suspected to struggle and those who get treatment, however, demonstrates how those who need help often aren’t seeking it.

At Rehab Recovery, we understand that getting treatment can seem like an impossible task. Those who struggle with drug misuse are strongly encouraged to seek support, and that’s why we are here to help.

If you need support, guidance, or some answers to your biggest questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch and give us a call on 0800 088 66 86.










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