full screen background image


This section contains statistical data, presented thematically (see menu right).

Summary of data, 2014

The Edinburgh and Lothians Drug-related Death Case Review Group reviewed 99 cases of drug-related death (DRD) which occurred in 2014. This is a 20% increase on the previous year’s total (79). It is the highest Lothian annual total on record.
Over two thirds of all drug-related deaths in Lothian occurred in the city of Edinburgh. Most were white, single Scottish men who had a known history of substance misuse (to services and/ or the Police). The majority of deaths (75) occurred among those with a long term history of substance misuse (greater than 5 years). 61% were known to be intravenous drug users (60 cases). The median age at death was 41 years.
In just over half of cases (57), the deceased had been in contact with a drug treatment service at the time of death. Most of those were in treatment with their GP under the National Enhanced Service (NES) (34). In 25 cases (one quarter of the case total) the now deceased had contact with NHS Lothian’s Substance Misuse Directorate (SMD) at some point in the year prior to death. 14 were in current active treatment with SMD at time of death.
Two thirds of the cohort had diagnosed mental health problems, depression being the most commonly reported condition. In 71 cases the deceased had physical health problems prior to death, respiratory conditions being the most common.
In the majority of cases (58), more than one substance was implicated in the final cause of death. Methadone was implicated in the final cause of death in 57 deaths. However, it was known to have been prescribed to the now deceased prior to death in only 30 cases. The number of cases of heroin/ morphine related death continues to rise (46 cases in 2014, compared to 29 cases in 2013 and 18 in 2012). Other substances frequently implicated in death: diazepam (21), dihydrocodeine (14). New psychoactive substances were implicated alongside controlled drugs in 9 cases. Long standing problematic misuse of alcohol was reported in 69 cases.
In 41 cases the deceased was known to have attempted suicide at some point during their lifetime. Attempted suicide occurred in 12 cases in the six months prior to death. In 37 cases it was reported that the deceased had engaged in deliberate self harm at some point during their lifetime, of which 10 cases occurred in the six months prior to death.
In two thirds of all cases the now deceased had a documented history of non-fatal overdose (66 cases). The average number of episodes of nonfatal overdose during the lifetime of persons who died of drug-related death in Lothian in 2014 is 3.
Opiate/opioid overdose occurred in the presence of others in 50 drug-related deaths in Lothian during 2014 (this is half of all cases). Had it been used, take home naloxone could have prevented death in many of these cases.