Dundee: substance abuse on the rise in Europe’s drug death capital

Drug-related deaths in Scotland has increased by 27 per cent compared to last year, making it three times that of England and Wales, and higher than any country in the EU.

According to the Dundee Drugs Commision, the city has has the highest number of drug-related deaths in Scotland, making it the ‘drug-death capital of Europe.’

The commission condemned the current state of substance misuse services in Dundee as not being “fit for purpose,” suggesting a “no unplanned discharges” policy, preventing drug users from being discharged for missing an appointment.

In a statement Robert Peat, Chair of the Dundee Drugs Commission, said: “Since starting our work in May 2018, the Commission has heard from or spoken to over a thousand people either directly or indirectly affected by the issue of drug use in Dundee.

“There can be many complex factors which result in a person becoming involved in drug use and it is with a range of effective support available and the delivery of that support with kindness, compassion and hope that things will improve that will make the required difference.

Dave Barrie, service manager for Addiction Dundee, the addiction support network in Dundee, praised the report, saying: “we need a shift from crisis management to more preventative work.

“There has to be a sense of urgency from the city’s leadership. Dundee has a real opportunity to use these recommendations positively and implement rapid change.”

He added: “We need to recognise that these deaths affect the whole community. With every loss the sense of hopelessness builds up. There’s still so much stigma around, and a feeling that some lives are dispensable.”


Those affected by substance abuse should contact the National Drugs Helpline for 24/7 help dealing with drug or alcohol addiction on 0800 776600.


Image: John Mac via Flickr

By Shin Woo Kim


Shinwoo (they/them) is a former News Editor. They identify as a Marxist-Leninist, and have written for Voices, News and Opinion and more recently for TV & Film.