The expert group behind new data exploring the patterns of Dundee’s epidemic of drug deaths hopes local services will use it to improve city services.
Newly released figures highlight some of the issues unique to Dundee that, it is hoped, will shed light on the city’s unenviable title as a world leader in drug deaths.
The data shows that in Dundee, compared to the rest of Scotland:
- Women make up a greater proportion of drug deaths – 29.9% compared to 25% nationwide.
- More deaths occurred in areas considered among the country’s most deprived.
- People taking opiate substitute therapies such as methadone are more likely die, and are more likely to have overdosed some time in the past.
- 67% of those who died had a known mental health condition (55% in Scotland).
- Drug death victims are more likely to have been taking antidepressants at the time of their death.
The data was pulled together by NHS Scotland analysts at the request of the Dundee Drugs Commission, as part of its investigation into support services, and then crunched by experts at the University of Dundee.
It was released on Wednesday, following a meeting at which council and health chiefs vowed to take action to save lives.
Commissioners hope using the detailed data can help services understand why Dundee has more drug deaths than elsewhere.
A total of 66 people died of substance use in Dundee last year – a higher per-head rate than almost anywhere else in the world.
Andy Perkins, of commission facilitators Figure 8, said: “The question has evolved from ‘why Dundee’ into whether there is anything particular about Dundee that causes these higher rates.
“We can start to ask the right questions – why more people in poverty or on treatment are dying.
“We’re able to put the data alongside the studies and lived experiences of people and shows we are on the right track.”