Investigating Scotland’s drug death crisis not only affords a comprehensive examination of the situation that the country currently faces, but it shines a light on why this crisis is being experienced and what can be done to mitigate it.

Scotland has the worst rate of drug-related deaths, not only in Europe, but in the developed world.  In 2019, over 1,100 people lost their lives to a drug addiction.

This figure, unfortunately, shows no sign of slowing.  In fact, the number of drug-related deaths in 2019 was up 27% from the previous year.  This surge led the country to declare a public health emergency.

Although the Scottish Government have generated various strategies to increase the support that those battling drug addictions receive, drug addictions continue to pose as a significant issue in Scotland.

Not only do they consume the lives of those suffering, but they have a detrimental impact on families and communities across the country.


What Causes an Individual to Become Addicted to Drugs?

To understand and investigate Scotland’s drug death crisis, it is imperative to acknowledge the various factors that cause an individual to become addicted to drugs.


According to Public Health Scotland, drug abuse and addictions are more consequential in areas that are stricken by poverty.  At present, it is estimated that over one million people live in poverty across the country, with urban areas experiencing an increasing number of drug-related deaths.

Mental Health Conditions

Drug addictions and mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression, often come hand in hand. It is estimated that 70% of individuals that become addicted to drugs will also battle a mental health disorder.

This is because the use of drugs is known to mitigate any negative feelings associated with a mental health disorder.  Although drugs relieve pessimistic thoughts temporarily, substance use can cause mental health conditions to become more inferior over time.


It is increasingly common for individuals to turn to substances to temporarily relieve themselves of physical and mental stress that they encounter.  Acting as a form of self-medication, many believe that infrequently abusing drugs is harmless.  However, drug addictions often arise from drug abuse.

Family History and Genetics

Genetics and family history play a somewhat large role in the formation of drug addictions.  In fact, 50% of drug addictions are believed to be a result of family genetics.

Furthermore, a child that has witnessed a parent administering drugs is eight times more likely to suffer from an addiction at some point in their life.


Reports published by the National Records of Scotland highlight that the highest number of drug-related deaths in Scotland are a result of poly-drug use.  Put simply, poly-drug use is when an individual consumes more than one substance at any given time.

For example, many will combine an opiate such as heroin with a benzodiazepine such as a diazepam.  While benzodiazepines are typically safe and often prescribed by medical professionals to treat anxiety, combined with an opiate, they have fatal consequences.

In addition to combining substances, drug-related deaths have soared as many individuals fail to seek help for their addictions.  Lengthy waiting times, limited support and lack of access to treatment have all contributed to this.

Stigmas surrounding addictions are also thought to play a part in the elevation of drug-related deaths.  Stigmas prevent thousands of people from seeking help as they worry about how they will be perceived by others if they admit to suffering from an addiction.


What the Government Is Doing About the Drug Crisis

Understanding that providing an increased amount of support to those battling with drug addictions can prevent deaths, the Scottish Government has acknowledged that those with addictions must receive treatment not only for their addiction, but the factors that have caused their addiction to arise.

With this in mind, the Government has provided £70 million to reduce the impact of drug addictions.  It is believed that this funding will be employed to invest in mental health support and rehabilitation beds.


How Nova Recovery Can Help

Although the Scottish Government have stated that they will do everything in their power to tackle the drug death crisis, at Nova Recovery, we understand that immediate action is often required.

Time is of the essence when it comes to drug addictions.  Leaving an addiction untreated even just for a short period can be fatal.

As a result, our private residential rehab can offer immediate support and guidance.  In many cases, we can also provide same-day admissions.

Regardless of whether you are battling an addiction, or know someone that is, you will never be left to suffer alone, nor will you be placed on a lengthy waiting list.

As touched on above, investigating Scotland’s drug death crisis has revealed that deaths have soared as people have failed to seek help.  Underlying mental health conditions and family history have too contributed.

With this in mind, at Nova Recovery, our team of professionals not only work with patients to ensure that they overcome their substance addiction, but they provide a wealth of therapies that enable those suffering to understand the root of their addiction.

In addition, aftercare support is incorporated into our treatment programmes. Although our recovery rates are increasingly high, relapses are more likely to be encountered within the first year of recovery.

Offering a free year of aftercare support guarantees that our patients have the support they need outside of our treatment hospital. In turn, this minimises the risk of relapse.


Reach Out to Nova Recovery

Located on the west coast of Scotland in the tranquil setting of Largs, North Ayrshire, our residential rehab is one of the most affordable private rehabs in Scotland.

We provide a safe retreat to hundreds of people each year that have silently battled drug and alcohol addictions.

If you have become addicted to drugs, we can offer you support, guidance and a new outlook on life.

Likewise, if you know someone that has become addicted to drugs, we can assist you as you refer them to our residential rehab for life-saving treatment.

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John Gillen - Author - Last updated: September 8, 2023

John has travelled extensively around the world, culminating in 19 years’ experience looking at different models. He is the European pioneer of NAD+ (Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide) treatment to Europe in 2010; and recently back from the USA bringing state of the art Virtual Reality Relapse Prevention and stress reduction therapy. His passion extends to other metabolic disturbances and neurodegenerative diseases. The journey continues. In recent times, John has travelled to Russia to study and research into a new therapy photobiomudulation or systemic laser therapy working with NAD+ scientists and the very best of the medical professionals in the UK and the USA, together with Nadcell, Bionad Hospitals own select Doctors, nurses, dieticians and therapists. Johns’ passion continues to endeavour to bring to the UK and Europe new developments with NAD+ Therapy in preventive and restorative medicine and Wellness. In 2017 John Gillen was made a visiting Professor at the John Naisbitt university in Belgrade Serbia.