THE number of drug deaths in Argyll and Bute has more than doubled in just over a decade, new government statistics have revealed.

But the year-on-year increase in the area, and the death rate per head of population, is much smaller than the shocking figures for many areas of Scotland which were published this week.

The Scottish Government's figures state that nine people's deaths were linked to drug use in Argyll and Bute in 2018.

That's just one more than the previous year – but it's more than double the number in 2008, when four drug-related deaths were recorded in the area.

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However, the 2018 figure is also lower than the Argyll and Bute peak for that 11-year period, when 12 deaths were attributed to drug abuse in 2011.

The government figures do not break down the Argyll and Bute deaths into local areas, and so do not reveal how many of the deaths happened in the Helensburgh and Lomond area.

A spokesperson for Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership said:  “Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) recognises the tragedy of each and every drug related death and the long term impact this has on families and communities.

“Argyll and Bute Alcohol and Drug Partnership partners work hard to reduce the risk of both drug and alcohol related death by offering support to those affected by their own or others drug or alcohol use as well as supporting people to be able to make safer choices to help recover from addiction.

“Anyone living in Argyll and Bute that is concerned about their own or another’s drug or alcohol use or wishes to get some information, guidance or support please contact Addaction’s freephone helpline on 0800 206 1460 or visit the Argyll and Bute ADP website at”

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According to the government's statistics, the number of drug-related deaths in Scotland in 2018 was 27 per cent higher than the previous year.

The year-on-year increase of one in Argyll and Bute amounted to a percentage rise of 12.5 per cent.

One of the Argyll and Bute deaths last year was linked to an ecstasy-type substance, but the vast majority were the result of the use of heroin or other morphine-related drugs.

Across Argyll and Bute the rate of drug-related deaths per 1,000 people for the five-year period from 2014 to 2018 was 0.11, exactly half the rate for Scotland as a whole.

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Nearby West Dunbartonshire saw a year-on-year increase of a third, from 15 deaths in 2017 to 20 last year, while to the north, Highland Council experienced a 50 per cent rise, from 24 deaths to 36, over the same period.