Still more work to do as drug deaths decline

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DRUG deaths are decreasing year-on-year, according to a new report.

Figures released by the Fife Alcohol and Drug Partnership reveal 81 people died from drug overdoses between 2008-10.

In 2008, 31 people lost their lives, 26 in 2009 and 24 in 2010.

That represents a decrease of 22.5 per cent over the three year period.

Specialists, however, say more work needs to be done.

Joy Patrick, service co-ordinator with DAPL (Drug and Alcohol Project Limited), said: “There’s nothing in the report that’s surprising although it’s good that the drugs’ death figures are going down.

“That could be for a range of reasons, for example, services sharing more information and providing the services people require, but ultimately one drugs’ death is one too many.”

The report showed most drug death victims were experiencing relationship difficulties and almost 90 per cent were unemployed and had been arrested at some point.

Half of drug death victims had served a prison sentence, and over 40 per cent within six months prior to their death.

However, few victims had been subject to court enforced interventions.

In addition, three quarters of drug death victims suffered from psychological of psychiatric difficulties and half suffered significant physical difficulties.

Over 60 per cent of the fatalities were parents but most did not live with their children.

However, in the majority of cases, the victims died in the company of others, many of whom believed the person had been simply sleeping.

The report makes a number of recommendations, including overdose training for partners and family members of drug users and “meaningful dialogue” between community, hospital and substance misuse services.

Ms Patrick said DAPL currently helped 600 people, including relatives of drug users, but the total number of adults at risk in Fife was an “unknown figure”.

“By far, most people who receive help have come through self referrals,” she said.

“The hardest thing is for people to actively seek help, but here there is no stigma, people won’t be judged by anybody and it’s a chance for people to air their problems.”

In many cases, people were battling life issues other than simply substance misuse.

“If you can work through those issues in the background, the substance misuse sometimes disappears,” she added.

“I would urge anyone who is affected by substance misuse to pick up the phone.”

DAPL can be contacted on 01333 422277.