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Police lift lid on tragic Ayrshire drug death numbers so far this year

The Ayrshire region recorded 60 suspected drug-related deaths between January and June this year, new figures reveal.

Thirty five people are suspected to have lost their lives due to drugs between January and March — with another 25 tragic losses between April and June.

The figures are contained within a new Police Scotland quarterly report.

Previous figures released in August showed that more than 1,300 people died of drug misuse in Scotland in 2020, with the country seeing a record number of deaths for the seventh year in a row.

The annual figures showed that there were 1,339 drug deaths last year — an increase of 75 from the 1,264 recorded the previous year.

Ayrshire’s figures are down 4 from the same period last year (January to June 2020), which showed that 64 people lost their lives.

However, the latest figures are nevertheless heart breaking for families and friends of those who were lost.

South Scotland Labour MSP Colin Smyth said: “Every single drug death across our region and beyond is a tragedy.

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“We should never forget that behind each of these figures is a person whose life has been cut far too short.

MSP Colin Smyth
MSP Colin Smyth

“It’s not good enough just to hear the Scottish Government express regret every time new figures are published, we need action.

“Cuts in funding for rehab a few years ago are taking a heavy toll, and just with any disease, we urgently need to see more investment to treat people.

“Of course, current drug laws should be looked at but we should not forget that Scotland has the same laws as the rest of the UK but three and a half times the rate of drug deaths.

“Ultimately, unless we tackle the underlying causes of this disease such as poverty, poor housing, and the shocking education attainment gap, then we will fail to get to grips with this growing crisis.”

The next ‘Suspected drug deaths in Scotland’ quarterly report will be published in December 2021, reporting on deaths up to September 2021.

Drugs Policy Minister Angela Constance said: “Once again these figures are appalling.

“We are taking a vast range of actions to tackle this public health emergency, and we recognise the hard work and challenges ahead.

Drugs Policy Minister Angela Constance
Drugs Policy Minister Angela Constance

“More regular reporting of data on drug death trends in Scotland will ensure everyone involved in our national mission remains focussed on the work we must do to get more people into the treatment that is best suited for them as quickly as possible.

“We know that to do this we must create a more integrated, person-centred approach to treatment.

“We are therefore investing £2.3 million over the next three years in Health Improvement Scotland to ensure people are treated not only for their physical health addiction but their mental health too.

“We are also working to reduce stigma and increase awareness. The Naloxone Awareness Campaign we launched with the Scottish Drugs Forum on International Overdose Awareness Day has already attracted 2,848 visits to the StopTheDeaths website.

“The £250 million we are investing in tackling this public health emergency will make a difference.

“I am working to ensure it reaches front-line services as quickly as possible and that every single penny will count as we continue to prioritise our efforts to turn this crisis around.”

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