This year’s sharp rise in the drug-related death statistics has been widely predicted, but it is no less shocking. These are not just numbers, they are people, and they are people who have left behind a devastated family and community.
This year hundreds of families have lost a loved one to drug-related death – those left behind include children (of all ages), siblings, parents, grandparents and other family members and friends. Any family bereavement is devastating, but these families face the additional pressures of police and other agency involvement in investigating the death; media interest; stigma and judgement of those around them; and the anger, frustration and guilt that they have been unable to ‘save’ their loved one from drugs and prevent their premature death. Ultimately this marks the end of any hope they have that their loved one will ever recover.
There are many and complex reasons for this sharp increase in drug-related deaths but we need to start from a place where we recognise these deaths are completely preventable.
We are marking the publication of today’s statistics with a call to action. It is time to declare a public health emergency which will allow additional powers and resources to be focused on addressing this issue. Scotland should have a target of zero drug-related deaths and work actively towards this. A fundamental part of this involves properly recognising the role of families, including them in care and treatment, and supporting them in their own right. Families are already saving lives every single day by keeping their loved ones connected.
The full report from the National Records of Scotland can be viewed here
Our bereavement support service is free and is available to anyone in Scotland who has lost someone to a drug-related death. If you are interested in support or would like to chat with us contact firstname.lastname@example.org.