New research shows heroin use falling across Scotland

A new report by the Centre for Drug Misuse Research at the University of Glasgow reveals that the number of people misusing heroin in Scotland has dropped. The research shows a near 8% drop in the number of problem drug users since 2000.

The report entitled 'Estimating the National and Local Prevalence of Problem Drug Use in Scotland, 2003' found that the estimated number of people misusing opiates and/or benzodiazepines had fallen from 55,800 in 2000 the first year for which a reliable estimate was established - to 51,582 in 2003, a fall of 7.6%.

The research, which focuses on 15-54 year olds, shows a fall in the estimated number of Scots who are taking particularly damaging drugs like heroin and valium.

It also highlights a decrease nationally in the numbers of addicts who are injecting, but around 18,737 still inject. The highest drug injecting prevalence is in the Argyll & Clyde, Greater Glasgow and Grampian NHS Board areas, where around 1% of the population inject drugs.

Drug related deaths were down in 2003 but over one percent of Scots are still misusing heroin and valium, or other opiates and/or benzodiazepines.

The number of users of crack cocaine is still relatively high in the city of Aberdeen, with over 1,000 users.

Dr Gordon Hay, Senior Research Fellow at the University of Glasgow, and one of the authors of the report, said a growing number of people are giving up heroin.

He said: 'A drug like heroin takes years to overcome an addiction for, but hopefully these figures show people are beginning to stop and embrace training and employment. However, the fact that around 1% of Scots are still misusing substances such as heroin is a very real concern.'

Around 30% of drug users are female and 70% are male in Scotland.

The research was carried out for the Scottish Executive by the Centre for Drug Misuse Research at the University of Glasgow and the Scottish Centre for Infection

Contact: Jenny Murray
University of Glasgow

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