The scale of Scotland’s drug-death scandal is exposed as nearly five times worse than the rest of the UK in the latest official figures.
The details for England and Wales were published days after separate records confirmed Scotland’s shocking position as the worst in Europe.
New figures build a picture of how last year’s records compare across other parts of Britain.
They show Scotland’s overall drugs death rate far outstripped the rates in England and Wales.
Broken down by regions, the records reveal wide differences with the north-east, which includes Newcastle, at the worst end of the scale.
A comparison shows Scotland is more than two times worse than the North East of England – and more than seven times worse than London.
The Office for National Statistics figures, published on August 3, make it possible to look at UK figures beyond Scotland, based on population levels.
Once again, Scotland’s drug-related death statistics are a national disgrace.”
– Scottish drugs policy minister Angela Constance
Scotland’s drug-death rate is far out in front at 252 per million people.
It compares with 52.1 in England and 51.1 in Wales.
Wales recorded its lowest rate of drug misuse deaths since 2014.
However, the Office for National Statistics said it is “possible” that death registration delays could be affecting the latest figures.
What do Scotland’s drug-death figures show?
Scotland’s official figures, published on July 30, confirmed the death toll had reached a new record level.
There were 1,339 deaths in 2020, up from 1,264 – which is an increase of 5.9%.
Dangerous “street-benzos” were present in more than 72% of recorded drug deaths.
People in deprived areas were 18 times more likely to die.
Glasgow overtook Dundee as the worst affected part of Scotland.
The rising total, and sharp inequality, heaped pressure on the SNP Government to finally get to grips with the social scandal.
During the Scottish Parliament election campaign, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon admitted the government’s eye had been taken “off the ball”.
The phrase drew a backlash with Holyrood opposition leaders demanding answers.
What is the SNP Government going to do?
In Holyrood on August 3, Scotland’s drugs policy minister, Angela Constance, appeared before MSPs for an emergency response to the situation.
Ms Constance announced a new residential rehab centre to support families affected by drug use. It will be developed in North Ayrshire.
She also signalled a review of street-benzos.
The type of drug is usually prescribed for anxiety and insomnia but illegal supplies are used with methadone or heroin to create a potentially lethal cocktail.
The Scottish Government is spending £250million on the problem over the next five years.
Ms Constance said: “Once again, Scotland’s drug-related death statistics are a national disgrace and my heart goes out to all the families who have lost a loved one.
“We know there is much work to do and that the investment we are making must reach those directly affected by drug use and I am absolutely determined to make every penny count.”