It is with mixed emotions that I respond to yesterdays announcement of the 1,051 lives lost to drug misuse in 2022. Each of these lives are precious and matters a great deal. There are many families and friends grieving the loss of their loved ones. Our condolences are with them at this time. Scotland remains by far the worst country in Europe in terms of drug deaths per capita. 2.7x higher than anywhere else in the UK and Europe. There is still a lot of work to be done.

On the other hand, we saw a decrease of 279 deaths compared with the previous year, meaning we are at the lowest levels for 5 years, and with the largest annual decrease since records began in 1996. This is significant progress and shows we are moving in the right direction. The past 2 years have stopped the increase, and this being timed with the introduction of the Governments drug mission fund at the beginning of 2021 shows the importance of such funding. To enable us to continue on this trajectory, we hope that the Government will continue to invest into the Drugs mission fund beyond the current 5 year funding to ensure we continue saving lives and sooner, rather than later, are able to bring Scotland on par with other UK nations and the rest of Europe.

Given that people living in the most deprived areas are 16 times more likely to die from an overdose compared with people living in the least deprived areas, it is vital we continue to see services targeting the most deprived areas.

I want to thank all our church partners and staff team for the part they have played across this past year, and would ask you to please join me in prayer for the fulfilment of our 3 year vision of 30 new partnerships in communities across the UK. Churches are embedded in areas of need across our land and can play a key role in continuing to drive these numbers down.

I would like to thank all the other organisations for all they do, and for families and friends who each provide ongoing support to those still struggling with substance misuse.

Finally, let’s pray for affected families, people still caught in the throes of addiction, that they will find the right support to help them in their time of need.


Aug 23, 2023