An addiction specialist has described Dundee’s latest drug-related hospital admission stats as being of “great concern”.
Dave Barrie, service manager at Addaction Dundee, has insisted work is ongoing in a bid to curb the trend after figures, published by ISD Scotland, showed stays increased drastically in 2017-18.
Admissions to hospital for overdoses in the city increased by 35% in the last year, from 40.47 per 100,000 people to 54.83.
The number of new patients recorded by the NHS as drug addicts is also on the rise, with 168 new city drug users admitted to hospital suffering from behavioural issues or the effects of an overdose last year.
The statistics highlight the problem of so-called “fake Valium” – tablets illegitimately produced and sourced to resemble the opioid drug but which can be several times stronger and fatal if mixed with other substances.
Overdoses related to heroin and methadone are down in Dundee, but admissions for “other opioids” are at their highest level on record and are set to continue rising.
There were as many admissions for overdoses for “other opioids” last year as there were for methadone – nine each.
Zero “other opioid” overdoses were recorded between April 2014 and March 2016.
Mr Barrie said: “The recent rise in stats is of great concern. Addaction, along with many other partners in Dundee, is trying to reduce hospital admissions.”
There was also a big spike in the cases of overdoses regarding multiple or other drugs, with 14.6 per 100,000 population in 2017-18 compared to 3.9 the year before.
In Tayside, men are more likely to overdose than women.
Last year 40.8 men in every 100,000 locals in the region were admitted for an overdose, up from 28.3 the year before, with female patients increasing from 11.9 per 100,000 in 2016-17 to 19.8.
North East MSP Bill Bowman said that the statistics made for “grim reading”.
He added: “I think the issue is of easy access to drugs in Dundee. In 2016 it looked like the creeping increase in Tayside was being handled, finally.
“But last year’s admissions are horrendous.”
Public health minister Joe FitzPatrick insisted a new investment of £20 million in drug and alcohol treatment will help those with addiction issues.
He added: “We’re taking forward evidence-based actions and examining how services can evolve to ensure they find those people most in need.”
An NHS Tayside spokeswoman added: “Substance misuse is a major public health issue and remains a priority for NHS Tayside and the three alcohol and drug partnerships within the Tayside area.”