Publication on suspected drug deaths

Latest figures indicate slight decline.

A report on the number of suspected drug deaths during the first nine months of 2021 shows a small decrease (4%) on the same period last year.

The report on suspected drug death Management Information from Police Scotland shows there were 1007 deaths between January and September this year.

Minister for Drugs Policy Angela Constance says that despite a slight decline (40 fewer suspected drug deaths) there is still much work to be done to turn this public health emergency around.

In the quarter from July to September 2021 there were 285 suspected drug deaths, 13% (44) fewer than the previous calendar quarter and 10% less than in the same period the previous year.

The focus of the national mission on drug deaths is to get more people into the treatment which works for them and the Minister will update Parliament later today on progress with Medication Assisted Treatments (MAT) standards which will see people get help the day they ask for it.

Ms Constance said:

“Firstly, I want to extend my deepest sympathy to all those affected by the loss of a loved one through drugs.

“While there has been a slight downturn in the number of suspected drug deaths, it is still far too high, and I am clear there is much hard work and many challenges ahead if we are to truly turn the tide on this emergency.

“These quarterly reports were commissioned to provide more regular reporting of data on drug death trends in Scotland so everyone involved in our national mission remains focussed on the work we must do to get more people into the treatment which works for them as quickly as possible, regardless of where they live and this afternoon I will update Parliament on progress on the implementation of MAT standards across the country.

“The £250 million we are investing in tackling this public health emergency will make a difference. I am working to ensure it reaches front-line services as quickly as possible and that every single penny will count as we continue to prioritise our efforts to turn this crisis around.”


The quarterly Management Information from Police Scotland presents deaths that the police suspect involve illicit drugs based on reports of attending officers’ observations and initial enquiries at the scene of death.

This differs from the annual National Records of Scotland (NRS) National Statistics on drug-related deaths which use data from death registration records supplemented with information from the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and forensic pathologists.

Suspected drug deaths in Scotland: July to September 2021 - (


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