Response to latest drug death figures

published on 24 Aug 2023

While The Salvation Army welcomes the year-on-year decline in the number of people who died from drug-related deaths in Scotland – the church and charity believes more can and must be done to prevent avoidable deaths.

Figures from National Records of Scotland show 1,051 people died of drug use in 2022, down from 1,330 in 2021.

Lee Ball, The Salvation Army's director of addictions, said: “We are encouraged that deaths from drug use are in decline in Scotland but we should not celebrate these numbers. Behind these figures are people and families who needed specialist support and compassion, so many of these deaths could have been avoided.

“The Salvation Army takes a harm reduction approach which has seen a 32 per cent reduction in drug-related deaths in our services over the past four years.

“Substance use as a way of coping is not a lifestyle choice, it’s a last resort for many people trying to escape the reality of unbearable pain and trauma. A harm reduction approach means removal of moral judgement from health and social care, supporting the person to address the cause as much as the consequence of substance use.

"The Salvation Army is calling for more investment in the full spectrum of treatment approaches to provide equity within healthcare and break the stigma of drug use for the individual, the family and the community.”

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