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Older addicts’ strain on the NHS in Scotland

We often consider drug problems to be an issue for young people. After all, it’s meant to be the time of life when we experiment with new things and make the mistakes that adults avoid. That is why it may come as a surprise then that official drug statistics in Scotland suggest otherwise. A recent report published by the Scottish Drugs Forum (SDF) stated that more than half of the country’s 61,500 problem drug users were aged over 35. The result of Scotland’s drug problem is that the NHS in Scotland is struggling to cope.

Scotland’s drug problem

Rising adult drug related deaths in Scotland

The report published by the Scottish Drugs Forum showed that the biggest increase in drug related deaths in Scotland last year was in the 35-44 age group: a rise from 249 to 327 in the past year alone. Most of these drug related deaths in Scotland were the result of a mix of drugs rather than just one substance.

An earlier report by the SDF further emphasised the impact that this growing drug misuse in Scotland will have on an already strained NHS.

Those aged over 35 will become the main client group in specialist services for the foreseeable future. The projected hospital usage figures associated with people with drug problems for 2027/28 is 192,600 hospital bed days at a cost of £101.8 million. Around £73.2 million will be attributable to those over 35.

What can we do about Scotland’s drug problem?

So, there is obviously a drug problem in Scotland and it’s very likely that drug treatment will have to be refocused to take into account the needs of older people. This group faces particular issues in terms of the social isolation and exclusion, shame and stigma that comes with abuse. They are also more vulnerable to health conditions that can be exacerbated by the use of drugs.

Encouraging people to seek help for the problem is a barrier that needs to be overcome. The over-35s are a highly complex group and special training is required in order for professionals to be able to pinpoint symptoms and provide the proper care to treat their problems.

The first thing to say to anyone over 35 with a drug problem in Scotland is to seek help. Admitting you have an addiction is the first step. The next is to talk to someone who can put you on the right path to recovery. For those who believe an older person in their life has an addiction, such as a parent, it’s crucial to confront them and encourage them to take action.

Rehab and other possibilities

There are a number of options available including free / NHS rehab, drug rehab, detox and private rehab. No-one on any of these pathways will judge you and all can prove effective in offering adults with drug problem in Scotland a way back to normal life.

At Port of Call, we have a lot of experience in helping people with drug problems of every age. There is a wide range of drug addiction support services in Scotland, including private rehab centres near Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, St Andrews or Ayrshire. We’ll give you the support you need at every stage of the journey.

Society’s drugs problem is everyone’s problem, and drugs can be a problem at any age. The NHS does a great job on limited resources but we can all play our part in reducing the impact of addiction.

About the author: Alex Molyneux

Alex is our admissions team leader. Over the last 5 years he has spoken with more than 10,000 people via our helpline and has organised over 1,000 detox and rehabilitation placements.

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