Decrease in drug-related deaths

Figures show biggest year-on-year reduction since statistics series began.

Drugs and Alcohol Policy Minister Elena Whitham has welcomed a record fall in the number of drug-related deaths – and has reaffirmed her commitment to continue the National Mission to reduce deaths and improve lives impacted by drugs.  

The figures, published by National Records of Scotland, found that 1,051 people died due to drug misuse in 2022, a decrease of 279 deaths (21%) compared with 2021 and the lowest annual total since 2017.

During a visit to ‘Back on the Road’ employability project which helps people in recovery from addiction issues, Ms Whitham said:

“My sympathy goes out to all those affected by the loss of a loved one through drugs.

“While I am pleased to see that hundreds of families have been spared this agony and lives have been saved, every life lost is a tragedy and the number of deaths is still too high.

“I will never underestimate the scale of the challenge we continue to face, including responding to new threats such as synthetic opioids and stimulant use. I can see that our work across Scotland, where we have already supported 300 grass-roots projects, including ‘Back on the Road’, is gathering pace, and I’m grateful to all those delivering vital services.

“As part of our £250 million National Mission on drugs, we’ll continue to focus on getting more people into the form of treatment and support they need, expand access to residential rehabilitation and drive the rollout of life-saving Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) Standards where we are making significant progress.

“As we highlighted in our recent Drug Law Reform proposals, the UK Government could do more to work with us to help introduce harm reduction measures.”

Back on the Road is based in Bridgeton Bus Garage in Glasgow’s East End and is one of hundreds of grassroots projects across Scotland helping save and improve lives.

Its delivery of training in the restoration of vintage vehicles has now returned to pre-pandemic operating level thanks to £244,000 funding over five years from the Scottish Government’s Local Support Fund, administered by the CORRA Foundation.

Back on the Road and Glasgow Vintage Vehicle Trust chair Steven Booth said:

“Our aim is to do our best to ensure our participants go on to lead a more fulfilling life, taking advantage of opportunities that might lie ahead for them."


Drug related deaths decrease | National Records of Scotland (


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