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National Investigation into Drug Related Deaths in Scotland, 2003

DescriptionThis report summarises the the outcomes of the National Investigation in Drug Related Deaths in Scotland for the year 2003.
Official Print Publication Date
Website Publication DateAugust 08, 2005


Deborah Zador 1
Brian Kidd 2
Sharon Hutchinson 3
Avril Taylor 4
Matt Hickman 5
Tom Fahey 6
Andrew Rome 7
Alex Baldacchino 2

1NHS Forth Valley and Centre for Addiction Research and Education, Scotland (CARES), University of Dundee
2CARES, University of Dundee
3Health Protection Scotland and University of Glasgow
4University of Paisley
5Imperial College, London
6Tayside Centre for General Practice, University of Dundee
7Senior Research Fellow, CARES, University of Dundee

August 2005

ISBN 0 7559 2666 8

This document is also available in pdf format (578k)

The views expressed in this report are those of the researchers and do notnecessarily represent those of the Department or Scottish Ministers

Scottish Executive Social Research Substance Misuse Research Programme



Executive Summary

Chapter 1: Introduction
Purpose of this report
Aims and Objectives of the study

Chapter 2: Profile of the study population
Cause of death
Social deprivation
Trends in and characteristics of drug-related deaths in Scotland, 1996-2003
Key points

Chapter 3: Toxicological findings and circumstances of death
Social and drug using characteristics of cases of drug related death
Circumstances of death
Interventions attempted at scene
Toxicological findings
Toxicological differences between injectors and non-injectors
Combinations of drugs
Prescribed drugs
Blood drug concentrations
Cause of death findings
Comparison of Scottish and London drug deaths
Key points

Chapter 4: Social circumstances in the 6 months prior to death
The individual, their family and social supports
Activity and employment
Living arrangements
Supportive relationships
Relationship with children
Life events
Key points

Chapter 5: Contact with Services
Mapping contact with health and social care services
Degree of engagement - time intervals between last service contact and occasion of drug-related death
Number of agencies involved
Services used
Purpose of contacts
Contact with Health Services
Hospital admissions
Psychiatric treatment
Previous non-fatal overdose
Specialist treatment for drug and alcohol problem in the last 6 months
Medical treatment for a drug problem
Identification of dependence
Methadone dose
Dispensing arrangements
Non-specialist detoxification
Did not attend rates
Waiting times
Contact with the Criminal Justice Service
Contact with community-based alternative to custody schemes
Contact with Scottish Prison Service
Deaths following Friday release
Deaths within six months
Deaths within three days of release from prison
Prison record by age group
Transitional Care arrangements
Key points

Chapter 6: Experiences of overdose survivors
Sample characteristics
Knowledge of risk factors / overdose prevention
Risk taking behaviour
Reasons for surviving overdose
Why treatment did not help prevent overdose
Why not in treatment
Overdose prevention
Overdose interventions
Personal perception of overdose risk
Overdose myths
Key points

Chapter 7: Conclusions and Implications
Describing the study population and trends over time
Toxicological findings and circumstances of death
Social circumstances in the 6 months prior to death
Contacts with services
Experiences of overdose survivors