The BBC reported this problem less than a week ago

It dished up the usual typical fayre of poor analysis of the available data.

When you put the data (which is published yearly back to 1996) into useful software, you get the sChart below. The data is in blue. The statistically calculated trended averages are the green lines. The upper and lower performance guidelines (outlining the performance corridor) are the red lines. The dotted red and green lines are the predictions of the performance corridor going forwards.

The problem started who knows how long ago with an increasing trend (of around 18 deaths per year) being set from 1996 (when we first have available data). In 2008, there was an upshift of almost 100 deaths per year but with a much reduced trend (5 – 6 per year) upwards. The first thing that comes to mind to cause the shift and the reduced trend, is the change in Scotland’s approach to drugs – see https://www.gov.scot/publications/road-recovery-new-approach-tackling-scotlands-drug-problem/pages/6/

But there could be other causes.

Things turned really nasty, though, from 2015 / 2016 onwards – so getting excited now is at least 3 – 4 years too late. Looking at the media comments / articles on this over the years it seems each year there’s noise and poor analysis about increasing drug deaths, and no preventative action, or if there is action being taken, it’s not working or possibly making things worse!

If we project the latest trend forwards by 5 years we see an increasing trend now of 126 per year! So if you think 1,200 is bad now, wait 2024 when it will be almost 2,000 per year!

To help Scotland get to the bottom of this, we might want to start with straightening out the way the BBC reports data and statistics! And let’s not wait until 2024!

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