Excess deaths in Scotland attributable to drug use
posted on: Jul 23, 2008
Mortality rates in Scotland are substantially higher than in England, and new research published in the British Medical Journal suggests that one third of this excess is attributable to higher levels of problem drug use in Scotland.
Between the ages of 15 and 54 mortality rates in Scotland were 42% higher than in England in 2002. Other researchers have shown that such differences cannot be accounted for by differences in deprivation between the two countries, and this unexplained difference has become known as the "Scottish effect". This research, conducted by researchers at the Centre for Drug Misuse Research at the University of Glasgow, the General Register Office for Scotland and the MRC Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, found that higher levels of problem drug use in Scotland coupled with higher associated mortality rates could account for a significant proportion of the excess.
The researchers considered all deaths among drug users - including those from infections, violent assaults, and suicides - and not just those relating to the pharmacological effect of an illicit drug. They showed the mortality rate among the cohort of 1033 drug users in Scotland to be more than 12 times the national rate. The official press release can be found here.