New figures that reveal a rise in suspected drug death numbers in South Scotland during 2021 are “a absolute tragedy”, according to South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth.
Although there was a small fall nationally compared to previous years from 1339 to 1330 according to the statistics released today, Dumfries and Galloway saw 35 suspected drug deaths between in 2021, compared to 22 for the whole of 2020- a repeat of the highest ever number for the region.
East Ayrshire recorded 38 drug related deaths- a rise of 2, although South Ayrshire fell from 31 to 23 with the Scottish Borders showing of fall of just 1 to 17 from 18. South Lanarkshire increased by 91 to 101- the highest ever figure for the area.
Commenting on the latest figures, Colin Smyth said: “A single drug death is one too many but the fact that Scotland continues to have the highest number of drug related deaths in Europe is an absolute tragedy.
“Behind each of these figures is someone whose life has been cut far too short and families without loved one.
“There is no doubt that cuts in funding by the Scottish Government for local rehab a few years ago have left a legacy, and just with any disease, we urgently need to see more investment to treat what is ultimately a health problem. That also means tackling the underlying causes of this disease such as poverty, poor housing, and the shocking education attainment gap.”
“We were warned there was likely to be a shocking rise in Dumfries and Galloway but that doesn’t make these figures any less shameful and shows that drug deaths aren’t just an issue for big cities, but one that plagues rural communities such as ours.”
“The record high level of drug deaths in South Lanarkshire is utterly devastating news and shows a tripling of deaths in just a decade. It highlights that the current policies are simply not working and local families are paying a heavy price”
“In South Ayrshire the fall in deaths doesn’t mask the fact that we have seen the number more than double in just over a decade and shows every community in Scotland is affected by these public health crisis”
“The 17 deaths in Scottish Borders has hit communities right across the region and shows that deaths are still far too high, still double the level they were ten years ago”.