About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland presents the information available from the Scottish Drug Misuse Database (SDMD) on people presenting for initial assessment at specialist drug treatment services in 2020/21. Information from the full first year of the COVID-19 pandemic are presented and the impact of this is discussed in more detail within the full report.

Main points

  • Initial assessments for specialist drug treatment relating to 7,938 people resident in Scotland were recorded on the Scottish Drug Misuse Database. This was lower than in 2019/20 (10,898), reflecting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting service interruptions and the transition of four NHS Boards to recording assessments on the Drug and Alcohol Information System (DAISy) from December 2020.
Image caption Main illicit drug used in the month prior to assessment by financial year
  • The majority of people assessed for specialist drug treatment were aged 35 years or over (55%). The prevalence of this age group in specialist drug treatment services has increased substantially since 2006/07 (29%).
  • Heroin remained the substance for which people most commonly reported needing help. Among those who indicated recent drug use, the percentage of people reporting heroin as their main drug was 35%, a substantial decrease from 63% in 2006/07.
  • Among those who indicated recent drug use, the percentage of people reporting cocaine as their main drug was 18%. From 2006/07 to 2015/16, between 5% and 8% of people reported cocaine or crack cocaine as their main drug. This percentage increased sharply from 2015/16 onwards, peaked at 21% in 2019/20 and decreased slightly in 2020/21.
  • The percentage of people assessed for specialist drug treatment who reported that they were currently injecting drugs was 9%, a substantial decrease from 28% in 2006/07.
  • The sharing of needles/syringes was reported by 4% of people. This percentage decreased from 11% in 2006/07 to 6% in 2011/12 and has remained approximately the same since. The sharing of other injecting equipment was reported by 4% of people, a decrease from 18% in 2006/07.      

Background

The SDMD is a unique source of data and provides insights into drug treatment needs and the social circumstances and behaviours of people at the point when they contact services for treatment. Data are presented from 2006/07 onwards.

This release should be viewed in conjunction with the associated Excel workbook below which provides users with accessible, interactive content based on data from 2006/07 to 2020/21.

Further information

Data from this publication are available from the publication page on our website.

Open data from this publication is available from the Scottish Health and Social Care Open Data platform.

This will be the last National Statistics report from the Scottish Drug Misuse Database, following the introduction of the Drug and Alcohol Information System (DAISy) in April 2021. 

General enquiries

If you have an enquiry relating to this publication, please email phs.drugsteam@phs.scot.

Media enquiries

If you have a media enquiry relating to this publication, please contact the Communications and Engagement team.

Requesting other formats and reporting issues

If you require publications or documents in other formats, please email phs.otherformats@phs.scot.

To report any issues with a publication, please email phs.generalpublications@phs.scot.

Older versions of this publication

Versions of this publication released before 16 March 2020 may be found on the Data and Intelligence, Health Protection Scotland or Improving Health websites.

Last updated: 13 June 2022
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