Drug deaths in Tayside are continuing to rise, according to a new report by NHS Tayside.
Last year there were a total of 78 deaths in the area, compared to 73 in 2017, the Drug Deaths in Tayside 2018 report reveals.
The greatest number of deaths are occurring in Dundee — 53 people died from overdosing on illicit, or illicitly obtained, substances in 2018.
Dundee deaths have seen a sharp increase in the last two years. In 2016 it was 38.
In Perth and Kinross the number has almost doubled — from eight in 2017 to 15 in 2018.
Angus was the only area in Tayside to buck the trend.
In 2017 there were 14 drug deaths in the county, but last year that fell to 10.
The rate of drug deaths in Tayside is now at 0.19 per 1,000. This was a small increase from 0.18 per 1,000 in 2017, but that was in turn a larger jump from 0.13 in 2016.
And the further back in time the figures are compared to, the more worrying the findings. There has been a 110.8% increase in drug deaths since the annual average in 2009-2011.
Unsurprisingly, the majority of deaths are occurring in the most deprived areas, with the least deprived seeing no known drug overdoses last year. The most deprived areas made up 60% of the deaths.
Recommendations on tackling the issue include ensuring people with problematic drug use are provided with appropriate mental health support if needed, in addition to managing substance use concerns.
The report also recommends continuing to progress work around non-fatal overdoses and opportunities for targeted early intervention to reduce risk of future drug deaths.
Dr Emma Fletcher, chair of the Tayside Drug Death Review Group and consultant in Public Health Medicine, said: “Our sympathies are with all of the families that are affected by the tragedy of a death resulting from drug use.
“Substance misuse is a major public health concern and remains a priority for NHS Tayside and the three Alcohol and Drug Partnerships in the Tayside area.
“The number of drug deaths is increasing nationally and globally and therefore altering this trend locally is extremely challenging.
“However, organisations in Tayside have strengths and expertise to further develop plans in light of these recommendations to reduce the risk of people dying as a result of drug use in future.”