General Register Office statistics show that drug deaths in Scotland have dropped to a eight-year low. There were 336 fatalities from drugs in Scotland in 2005 compared with 356 in 2004.
"Every death associated with drug misuse is a tragedy and reminds us that drug abuse is a blight on the lives of too many families and communities across Scotland," said Deputy Justice Minister Hugh Henry. "I am pleased to see that the figures for drug-related deaths have fallen but we cannot be complacent. As long as there are drugs on our streets, then there is the potential for deaths to rise again. Our efforts must be relentless."
However deaths involving cocaine surged from 38 in 2004 to 44 in 2005. Henry said that although deaths had come down it was time to be vigilant. "Educating young people about the dangers of drugs and providing them with opportunities to make positive life choices must always be the starting point of our drugs strategy." He added that the Scottish Executive was collaborating with other publicans to find means to ask youngsters to stop using drugs.
Scottish Tory leader Annabel Goldie said that the report was misleading. The war against drugs is far from won; indeed the Scottish Executive's own target was to reduce the number of fatalities to 218 or fewer by the end of 2004. The 2005 total of 336 shows just how far off track they are."