Drug-related deaths in Grampian, Scotland

Grant Stenhouse, James Henderson Kerr Grieve

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


To analyse the demographic data from fatalities arising directly from illicit drug abuse in the Grampian area and compare the findings with trends in drug seizures in Grampian to ascertain if these reflect the recorded deaths, and to attempt to identify a subgroup of the abusing population which might be at greater danger from overdose of controlled substances. Methods - Cases in which the cause of death was directly attributed to illicit drugs from the beginning of January 1995 until the end of December 1999 were identified, and their epidemiological and toxicological data were analysed. The information regarding drug seizures was gained from Home Office publications for the same time period. Results - One hundred and thirteen cases were retrieved consisting of 93 males and 2o females, aged 16 to 43 years (Median 25). The most commonly isolated substance was morphine followed by benzodiazepines. In 97 cases two or more drugs were involved with five cases showing positive toxicology for four or more drugs. Of the female deaths 75% fell into the 16 - 25 year age range. Drug seizures rose by 49% from 1995 to 1998 with both heroin and benzodiazepine seizures increasing by more than five fold in the same period. Conclusions - Deaths directly due to illicit drugs showed a significant increase over the study period and were concentrated in the young male population. The drug seizures increased but the extent of this was not mirrored in the deaths. A shift in emphasis to an older age group is also indicated; drug misuse educational programmes should continue to be targeted at all populations but information may also be targeted at the older age groups and at females under 25 years of age.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-113
Number of pages2
JournalScottish Medical Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • morphine
  • heroin
  • drug-related deaths
  • alcohol
  • benzodiazepines


Dive into the research topics of 'Drug-related deaths in Grampian, Scotland'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this