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Problem drug use in Scotland considered by Committee

3 May 2019

The Scottish Affairs Committee begins taking evidence for its inquiry into problem drug use in Scotland with a session focusing on identifying key trends in drug use in Scotland, the drivers behind problem drug use and alternative approaches to dealing with the issues.


Scotland is disproportionately affected by key drivers of substance abuse – including deprivation and trauma. As such, problem drug-use is significantly higher compared to England and other European countries. Drugs-related deaths have increased consistently – rising from 224 in 1997 to 934 in 2017 – with opioids, such as heroin, fentanyl and morphine, involved in 89% of cases. The Committee seeks to understand these issues in greater detail through this evidence session.

Purpose of the session

The Scottish Affairs Committee will take evidence from academics with expertise in provision of care and services for drug users and public health protection in its first evidence session for the inquiry.

The Committee will ask the panel to assess the major trends in problem drug use in Scotland, such as the increasing proportion of problem drug users over the age of 35, and the use of internet to supply drugs.

Questions will also focus on the links between mental health illness and problem drug use, and how stressful and traumatic experiences in childhood can increase the likelihood of a person developing problematic drug use later in life.

The Committee will also consider the links between social deprivation and problem drug use and whether current policy measures are effectively addressing this.


Tuesday 7 May 2019, Committee Room 16, Palace of Westminster

From 2pm

  • Dr Andrew McAuley, Senior Research Fellow, School of Health and Life Sciences, Glasgow Caledonian University 
  • Dr Tessa Parkes, Director, Salvation Army Centre, Stirling University 
  • Professor Catriona Matheson, University of Stirling
  • Dr Emily Tweed, University of Glasgow

Further information

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