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Rise in number of drug abuse deaths

New figures show that there were 280 drug abuse-related deaths in Scotland last year.

The figure is 76 more than that for 2005, and is the highest death toll since 2002, when 280 lives were lost.

And last year's figures, which have been published by the General Register Office for Scotland, do not account for the total death toll from drugs.

In total, 421 people died in drug-related deaths in 2006, compared with 336 the previous year.

These larger totals, however, include cases of accidental poisoning, deliberate self-poisoning, and cases where the victim's intention was unknown.

The figures stand in stark contrast to the drugs toll in Scotland 10 years previously, as in 1996, there were 244 drug deaths in all categories.

Out of last year's death toll, 51 were linked to accidental poisoning, and 40 to intentional poisoning.

Heroin or morphine were involved in 260 of last year's deaths, methadone was involved in 97, and diazepam was involved in 78 - although this involves some double-counting.

Cocaine and ecstasy were involved in 33 and 13 deaths respectively but in many cases, drugs were found in combination - 19 of the 33 cocaine deaths also involved heroin, morphine, or methadone.

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General Register Office for Scotland