More than 5000 Scots treated in hospital for drug abuse in past year

More than 5000 Scots were taken to hospital for drug abuse last year, with cannabis one of the main causes.   The latest figures revealed a total of 5028 people were admitted to hospital in Scotland a total of 6516 times for drug misuse in 2013/14.   A total of 4365 of those hospital stays related to people taking opioid drugs, like heroin and morphine, with cannabis relating to 782 admissions, the third most prevalent.

The figures also revealed that since 1996, the rate of people admitted to hospital for drug-related illnesses more than trebled from 41 per 100,000 of the population to 124 per 100,000 of the population last year.  The vast majority (92%) of the drug-related hospital stays were emergency admissions.  In all age groups except the under 20-year-olds, heroin related drugs were the main cause of hospital stays.   Those aged between 20 and 24 had the highest percentage of stays related to cocaine.

Cannabis was by far the most prevalent drug relating to under-20s needing hospital treatment, a total of 37% of admissions.   The number of people taken to hospital due to cannabis in recent years has also increased from just 492 in 2008/09 to 751 in the last year.

Scottish Conservative health spokesman Jackson Carlaw MSP said: “Cannabis enjoys a reputation in some quarters as essentially being a safe drug. But we can see from these figures that clearly isn’t the case.  “Allowing the illegal substance that reputation can breed complacency among not only users, but authorities too.  “It accounts for almost double the hospital admissions as cocaine, and the five-year trend is certainly moving in the wrong direction.

“We have to break this relaxed attitude, and ensure that the hundreds who are hospitalised as a result of cannabis don’t fall into a trap of believing what they are doing is a risk-free activity.”

Community safety minister Roseanna Cunningham said: “We have maintained record amounts of money in frontline drug services and support, with drug treatment waiting times dramatically reduced.  “We have an ambitious programme for education about the dangers of drugs, including cannabis, through Know the Score and Choices for Life.

“Drug taking in the general adult population has fallen since 2006 and drug use among young people is at its lowest levels since 2002.  Hospital discharges for drug use have also fallen among younger age groups.”

Source:    28th October  2014

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