According to a new report from National Records of Scotland, people in the most deprived areas were almost 16 times as likely to die from drug misuse as those in the least deprived. Most deprived death rates twice as high | National Records of Scotland (nrscotland.gov.uk)
Alcohol harms continue to be one of Scotland’s most pressing public health and social issues as shown by the National Records for Scotland (NRS 2023), with an increase from 1,245 alcohol-specific deaths in 2021 to 1,276 in 2022. More positively, alcohol related hospital admissions have reduced significantly since their peak in 2007 of 43,000 to 33,000 in 2022 However, people in the most deprived areas of Scotland were six times more likely to be admitted for an alcohol-related condition than those in the least deprived areas (991 compared to 153 per 100,000 population), making our work with partner charities in supporting the most deprived, marginalised and isolated young adults into work and improving their life chances absolutely essential.
The need for our cannabis education and training to protect and enable young adults to understand the risks of use is emphasised by Public Health Scotland figures (2023) showing that cannabinoids are responsible for a third (29%) of new psychiatric admissions (higher than opioids at 26%) in Scotland. In the Western Isles, they are responsible for one in every two admissions, 40% in Mid & East Lothian (49%), Fife (42%) and East Renfrewshire (40%).
Looking more broadly, half of the patients with a drug-related hospital stay lived in the most deprived areas in Scotland and drug-related deaths (DRDs) have increased annually across Scotland (2014 - 2020) consolidating Scotland's place at the top of European drug-related mortality charts.
Accurate data on recent alcohol and drug use by young people in Scotland is hard to obtain since the last SALSUS survey results of 2019, which found that 12% of 15 year olds reported using drugs in the last month. Our most recent worries include vaping, especially illicit vapes that are high in nicotine and have been found to contain up to 200 chemicals such as THC, spice and nickel. 50% of 17 year olds have vaped according to ASH. Also on our radar is poly substance use, such as combining Buckfast with cocaine and the rise of ‘street benzos’.
So our work in Scotland ensuring that young people's life chances are not derailed by underage drinking, excess alcohol or substance misuse is key - as is our ability to respond to the issues that challenge them change day to day.