Significant rise in suspected drug deaths in first half of 2021

A significant increase has been recorded in the number of suspected drug-related deaths in Dumfries and Galloway.

Wednesday, 4th August 2021, 10:29 am
Updated Wednesday, 4th August 2021, 10:31 am
There has been more suspected drug deaths in Dumfries and Galloway in the first six months of 2021 than in the whole of last year. Pic: Getty Images

Newly-published numbers for 2020 show a reduction in the number of confirmed drug-related deaths within the region compared to 2019, from 35 to 22.

However, in the first six months of 2021 there was a total of 25 suspected drug-related deaths, an increase of 39 per cent on the same period last year.

This is despite ongoing, concerted efforts to promote measures which can cut drug deaths - including the provision of free Naloxone kits which can help reverse an overdose.

Independent chairman of Dumfries and Galloway Alcohol and Drug Partnership Grahame Clarke said: “Deaths through drugs are preventable, so any loss of life is a matter of huge regret.

“However, the increase in numbers so far this year compared to 2020 is very marked, and we are asking everyone to help do what they can to help address this deeply concerning situation.”

Mr Clarke points to specific current concerns that people are taking drugs in combination, with evidence of opioids like heroin and methadone being taken along with illicit tablets they believe are benzodiazepines.

He said: “We are seeing a rise in our suspected drug deaths and are looking at these in more detail.

"We also know that people are taking different drugs in combination which greatly increased the risk to them.”

However, Mr Clarke notes that there is not one single, obvious reason for the increase in suspected drug-related deaths – meaning that a variety of approaches are being applied.

As part of a growing multi-agency campaign a new dedicated website has gone live at with key information aimed at trying to help drug-related deaths.

Mr Clarke said: “Drug deaths are preventable and that’s why we want to make sure we tell people about the risks to them and how they can get help.

“Every death is a cause for major regret, and there is a determination from within the ADP to continue to with partners, people who use drugs and their families to reduce the risk as much as we possibly can.”