Drug abuse claimed the lives of 1,339 persons in Scotland in 2020, the highest number ever recorded since such measurements began 25 years ago, National Records Scotland indicated on Friday.
This was a 5% increase on 2019 and marked the seventh consecutive annual increase in drug-induced deaths.
Scotland’s drug death rate, at 21 for every 100,000 inhabitants, is the worst in Europe and 3.5 units higher than the average for the United Kingdom. Statistics show that the area around the city of Glasgow has the worst incidence of such deaths.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon described the news on Twitter as “unacceptable” and “a human tragedy.”
She stressed that the current government had a ministry in charge of the fight against drugs and that it had increased the budget allocated for such efforts.
About 104 million euros have been released for fighting drug and alcohol addiction and to improve distribution of naloxone, a drug used to treat narcotics overdose, according to the Scottish Premier.
Scotland’s regional government has long been clamouring for more powers in the fight against drugs.
Drug abuse has been more widespread in Scotland than elsewhere in the United Kingdom ever since heroin appeared on the scene in the 1980s. Researchers blame the high level of poverty in the region for this.