Concern has been raised about the impact cocaine is having in Fife after the number of deaths linked to the class A substance soared last year.
Sixteen people passed away across the region as a result of cocaine use, either on its own or as part of a lethal cocktail of drugs, in 2018, double the number from the previous year.
The shock figures emerged on the back of national statistics which showed that 1,187 people died drug-related deaths in Scotland in 2018, up 27% in a year and making the country the worst for drug deaths in Europe.
Fife’s figure of 64 was actually down two on the previous year, bucking the Scottish trend.
But the sudden spike in cocaine-related deaths, from one a year in 2015 and 2016 to eight in 2017 and then the high of 16 last year, has prompted fears ‘coke’ is fast becoming the go-to drug for younger Fifers and that dealers are flooding the market.
Steve Hopton, chairman of Fife’s Alcohol and Drug Partnership, said the organisation is working with all partner agencies to identify those most at risk of drug-related deaths and near fatal overdose and help the work towards recovery.
“Tackling Fife’s drug-related deaths within that strategy is a priority for Fife ADP and we are concerned about the continued national rise in the numbers of people dying from drug related overdose,” he said.
“The figures represent a tragic loss of life which will require concentrated and co-ordinated action to reverse.”
Mr Hopton added that a range of initiatives have been put in place over the last 12 months in direct response to rising drug deaths, which may have contributed to the slight fall year-on-year locally.
“We extend our sympathies to the families of the 64 people who lost their lives in this way last year and are committed to increase our efforts to prevent drug related deaths in Fife,” he added.
The cocaine-related death figures for Fife come after a survey suggested drug users in Scotland consume the most cocaine in a single session.
The 2018 Global Drug Survey looked at the recreational drug use of 130,000 people across 44 countries, and the amount of the drug consumed per session in Scotland was more than double the global average.