There was 65 drug deaths in the Kingdom in 2020 – down from a record high of 81 in 2019. Throughout the whole of Scotland there were 1339 drug-related deaths in the year, the biggest number since records began.
However, the annual average over the last five years is 64 deaths, more than double the figure for the five-year period between 2006-2010.
The data also showed that for every 100,000 people in the Kingdom, 17.3 had suffered a drug-related death in 2020 – less than half the rate for Dundee, which topped the table with a rate of 39 per 100,000 people.
Of the 65 deaths in 2020, the vast majority were men – 53 compared to 12 female victims.
Sixty were listed as accidental poisoning, with 63 related to any opioid or opiates. 32 also had Gabapentin and/or Pregabalin listed as drugs implicated in the deaths.
The number of drug-related deaths has increased substantially in Scotland over the last 20 years – there were four and a half times as many deaths in 2020 compared with 2000.
Alan Ferrier, head of demographic statistics, said: "Sadly, last year saw the highest number of drug-related deaths in Scotland since reporting began 25 years ago, and 59 more deaths than were registered in 2019.
“At the beginning of the century, the rate of drug-related deaths in Scotland’s most deprived areas was 10 times that of our least deprived areas. By 2020 this gap had increased to 18 times as high.”
Neale Hanvey, MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath and a former senior NHS employee, said that the Scottish Government should stop blaming Westminster.
He said: “This is a public-health crisis no less serious than the Covid pandemic.
“With today’s statistics, that brings the total drug-related deaths between 2010 and 2020 to a shocking 9,089 across Scotland. That compares to 7,842 people who have died from Covid. While the Scottish Government’s approach to Covid has been commendable, it is high time we see the same vigour applied to the drug crisis.
“Blaming Westminster for this public-health crisis is not good enough. The Scottish Government has been navel gazing on niche issues instead of tackling the drivers of drug use – poverty, inequality and deprivation.
“That’s why I’m calling on ministers to stop playing the “blame game” and take action to address the drug crisis.
"We need much more investment in rehabilitation, a faster and wider roll out of naloxone and serious efforts to address poverty.
“Users, their families, communities and frankly the whole of Scotland deserve much better.”