09/08/2011 08:01 BST | Updated 09/10/2011 06:12 BST

Drug-Related Deaths Decrease This Year

PRESS ASSOCIATION -- The number of drug-related deaths has fallen for the second year in a row, new figures show.

Statistics published by the Registrar General show 485 drug-related deaths in 2010, down 11% from 545 in 2009 and down from 574 in 2008.

Three-quarters of those who died were men, and more than half the deaths were linked to heroin and morphine. Methadone was implicated in, or potentially contributed to, 174 deaths and alcohol was involved in 127 deaths.

Greater Glasgow and Clyde accounted for just over a third of the deaths, while 15% were in Lothian.

Community Safety Minister Roseanna Cunningham said: "These figures published today represent 485 lives lost to families and communities across Scotland and while I welcome the news of a further decrease, any death is one too many.

"Tackling drugs misuse is a complex issue which the Scottish Government has been working hard to address. With more than half of deaths due to heroin and morphine in 2010, it is clear serious drug misuse remains a significant problem to be addressed."

Ms Cunningham said £28.6 million had been invested in frontline drug treatment services for 2011-12.

David Liddell, director of the Scottish Drugs Forum, said it is too early to say if the reduction in deaths is a long-term trend.

He added: "The biggest issue is that Scotland's death toll from drug problems remains unacceptably high. If you look at the rate of drug-related deaths among the drug using population, Scotland has similar rates to our European neighbours.

"But if you look at the rate of drug-related deaths compared to the overall population, Scottish people are seven times more likely to die from a drug-related death than their European counterparts."