The Scottish heroin epidemic started in Edinburgh, the more prosperous of Scotland's two largest cities. This was largely due to the presence of MacFarlan Smith, which was at one point the world's largest producer of pharmaceutical opiates. That initial cohort of heroin users in the 1980s predominantly used drugs that were diverted from the legitimate pharmaceutical supply rather than smuggled from abroad, which led to an unusually rapid increase in the user population and the illicit market.
The majority of overdose deaths in Scotland involved multiple drugs; for reasons that are not entirely clear, Scottish addicts are particularly prone to concurrently use opiates, benzodiazepines and alcohol in an indiscriminate manner. This vastly increases the risk of overdose due to the cumulative and unpredictable respiratory depression induced by multiple drugs.
I don't believe this is specific to Scotland. My layperson understanding is that heroin is relatively safe in the sense that most opioid deaths fall into one of the following categories: multiple drug interaction (benzos/alcohol being a very common combination), tolerance change due to relapse and, more recently, increased variance in potency due to strong synthetics (fentynyl, carfentanil, etc.). This is the theory behind people who advocate for maintenance prescriptions.
It is a fact that redheads have higher pain tolerance and respond differently to anesthesia compared to the rest of the population. Considering these phenomena are related to drug abuse, I feel like the downvoting is a matter of ignorance.
To add to the cocktail of drugs there is also glue sniffing. South of the border you will never see anyone sniffing glue and I doubt there are many people in England who wake up in the morning with a burning desire to sit in the street sniffing glue. But this goes on in Glasgow. I found this shocking to see.
There is also 'Bucky' that alcohol that is not sold south of the border.
15% alcohol in what is effectively an energy drink. Happy times.
This is quite an unsubstantiated claim. Never? Of course you will, and do.
> There is also 'Bucky' that alcohol that is not sold south of the border.
This is patently false. It's made in Devon at Buckfast Abbey, so of course it's sold south of the border. And you see it south of the border all over the place. I know several places off the top of my head in Leeds and London where you can buy it. You can buy it on Amazon as well.
Looking at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buckfast_Tonic_Wine
1 bottle 750ml @ 15% alcohol + caffeine equivalent to 8 cans of coke, that will do it alright.
good god just found this, why?
I have spent a lot of time in the scummier parts of London and yet to step over some kid sniffing glue. In Glasgow it is an all too common sight. You can check the health statistics and I am sure there are a few parts of North England and Northern Ireland that are similarly blighted but glue is not a problem south of the Watford Gap in the way that it is in Glasgow.
Sure Bucky is now stocked by Booker and therefore available in corner shops in England, however this is a recent development. Five years ago it was near impossible to buy the stuff in England. As for today, good luck buying bucky in a normal supermarket - Tesco, Waitrose, Asda, Sainsbury's, Aldi, Lidl etc. or even in a pub. It isn't marketed in England in the same way it is marketed in Scotland.
I studied in and now live and work in Glasgow. I've been here for a total of 7 years. I walk to and from work across the city. I'm out late in either the City Center, the west end, Finnieston or the Merchant City at least once a week. I'm maybe out twice a month for past 1am nights and I'm up early for the gym a few mornings a week too. I have not once seen anyone sniffing glue or doing any kind of drugs openly on the city streets.
It's possible that open drug use might be happening right under your nose and you're never around to see it.
Scot here - Buckfast is certainly notorious in the central belt, but I've never seen it actually advertised anywhere, in any medium?
It is terrible.
It seems like a liability for the traditional branding if they do not make it as they claim "along the same lines and according to the same basic recipe as used in the very early days" They could be just mixing in highly refined caffeine like an "alcho-pop" manufacturer but I'm not so cynical to expect that.
They don't taste good but they're cheap and strong so they were popular with college kids looking to hang out and get buzzed with friends. Even then we sort of did it with a wink and a grin, knowing that we were drinking some pretty "trashy" stuff.
"Buckfast gets you fucked fast!" was the common joke.
I recall people hoarding “original formula” watermelon fourloko when it started disappearing from shelves.
Edit: a decent overview of the “banned” four loko vs reformulates version: https://youtu.be/XUPXFzag258
Fourloko seems to have a similar reputations with my friends from universities across the pond, but is a fair bit less alcoholic, and served in large beer can quantities rather than 750ml wine bottles. If you down a bottle of Bucky you’re having a night you probably won’t remember.
There were plenty of them where I grew up in NE England, so that it pre '86. You'd often find them in the local park when out walking the dog - or the dog would find them.
I can strongly recommend Darren McGarvey's Poverty Safari a personal account of a deprived childhood on the outskirts of Glasgow.
Edit: Something I find grimly fascinating is the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) and its interactive map visualisation:
I commented because I thought the implication that Glasgow/Scotland is anomalous seemed odd, rather than simply being the extreme low-point in a general regional trend.
quote from the book's Wikipedia page:
Sowell argues that the black ghetto culture, which is claimed to be "authentic black culture", is actually a highly dysfunctional white southern redneck culture which existed during the antebellum South. This culture came, in turn, from the "Cracker culture" of the North Britons and Scots-Irish who migrated from the generally lawless border regions of Britain.
The Scottish Government is at least trying to address the problems with some degree of success and a certain amount of innovation, which the posts on the above blog often feature. However there is clearly a long way to go.
Off topic. So I thought the "sick man of Europe" was used exclusively to describe the Ottoman Empire and dig into this and turns out there has been multiple countries in different eras called the "sick man of Europe". Read: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sick_man_of_Europe
> Scotland has been called "sick man of Europe" several times, but for health reasons instead of economic.
For anyone else wondering "Geographic Access" is based on public transport times to selected public services. This is outline in the methodology documentation .
Fingertips also provide a range of useful information: https://fingertips.phe.org.uk/
This something that the pro-independence Scottish government are making quite a bit of noise about now; some of it is probably opportunism, but Scotland's drug culture is different enough that it certainly seems to require different tools. In particular, there is pressure among some people for the introduction of safe drug consumption facilities, with the idea being that this keeps people off the street, with access to medical care, in the system, and with support to help them recover. These are currently prohibited in the UK.
We'll see what happens over the next few years, of course. The current UK government is unlikely to be giving any concessions.
As a cost-saving measure due to Westminster-imposed spending cuts, the Scottish government merged all six regional Scottish police forces into a single force, Police Scotland, in 2013.
This involved a game of musical chairs at senior rank as posts were merged, so the senior officers with the best resumes (most people working for them, biggest budgets) ended up getting the plum jobs. In practice, this meant that Police Scotland lost its distinctive regional specialities and became dominated by senior cops from the former Strathclyde police force (i.e. Glasgow). This force was culturally presbyterian and prone to a puritanical zero-tolerance culture, which they exported to the rest of the nation, damaging local initiatives such as Edinburgh's unofficially sanctioned brothels (attacks on sex workers spiked) and setting relations with the LGBT community back by a decade. They also clamped down on tolerance of cannabis, which didn't help, and were notoriously unsupportive of harm reduction initiatives such as shooting galleries.
Police Scotland seems to be improving these days as they re-learn a lot of hard-won lessons about how to do policing in places that aren't the west end of Glasgow, but the combination of an intolerant, harsh policing culture and Theresa May's Home Office calling the shots on drugs was utterly toxic.
Mind you this was going back a bit (1980 or so) but someone who ranted about the evils of Catholicism to anyone in earshot probably didn't get many counter arguments from their colleagues.
And I know someone who used to work as a diversity officer (they ran seminars on diversity) for the Police: bigotry runs very deep unf. The slightly bizarre twist recently is that the Police now spends a lot of time on hate crime (i.e. chasing easy arrests on Twitter)...poacher turn gamekeeper I suppose (and again, the self-righteousness is utterly incomprehensible).
It was pretty traumatic to see, not that I really understood it as a kid.
It was way worse than the streets of San Francisco today, which are an absolute disaster too!
Good riddance, getting rid of that "treatment" was the best thing we ever did.
 - https://www.gov.uk/guidance/controlled-drug-domestic-licence...
Yet each election term they voted in either the same politicians or politicians with the same manifestos.
Nothing will change!
In a country that has for many years only had a broadly two-party system, there was little effect to be had by voting for someone else. And given Glasgow's historical politics, that was always going to be the lefty party.
Things have changed, though. The devolved Scottish Parliament has now been in operation for 20 years; in Westminster, Glasgow North-East (which is the parliamentary constituency covering Springburn) was in 2015 one of the constituencies that saw its vote swing massively behind the pro-Scottish-independence party that was traditionally unpopular in UK-wide elections, though they narrowly lost that seat in the unexpected 2017 election.
And this is the reason it is important – drugs policy is reserved to the UK government, and there's a fair bit of chat about it now.
I'm from Glasgow (Kirkintilloch), live in Ayrshire now, and I saw it first hand: I had two friends die of OD's years ago.
I only visit Glasgow city centre on occasion and each time I do it appears to get worse but I live near Irvine now and you can tell a mile away who's had their methodone so it's no better down here.
I see the drug problem in described first hand, I live in Glasgow city center and if our tenement flat door is opened at night in the morning I will be stepping over users and needles on the stairs.
However things are changing, the SNP are pushing for drug consumption rooms, currently being blocked by the UK GOV, but they are under increased pressure and will either buckle or independence will make it a non issue, as well as general city wide improvements, better policing + rehabilitation, reducing of shorter sentences etc.
Made a change to have an MP who had done a non political job for 20 years plus before becoming an MP.
There is a large cross-section of the population that vote for Labour irregardless of, well, anything.
Generations have voted for Labour because their parents, grandparents and great great grandparents did, and because they believe Labour stands for working class people and values - all the while without once considering what their policies or values actually are, or indeed those of the opposing parties.
This cross-section also firmly believes the Conservatives are 'rich toffs' trying to screw over the working classes, and the Liberal Democrats are 'liberal lefties' (and of course we can't have that!)
Will the dogma ever end? The tabloid press, and indeed sometimes Labour politicians, continue their poisonous to stoking of the flames, and people just nod their heads.
Politics in the UK really is a terrible mess.
And then there were a bunch of other facts not at all related to guns that have no bearing on it, culminating in an ill-advised moralising conclusion that it (it being a lot of deaths and what I have to assume is bad policy) is deserved because of all those things.
Probably every generation in history looks back in time at every other generation and has no hesitation in coming to this conclusion. It is only with our current generation that our cognitive biases and emotional nature tell us to believe otherwise.
For people outside the UK, I'd recommend tracking down a BBC documentary called The Scheme. It's quite old now (~2010) but still pretty relevant.
Episode 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9X6KfCYJx_g
Episode 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZgwELFu6Erw
Episode 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9YV4aJ49SI
Episode 4: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-bK0bleFCuI
Episode 5: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E90kfvhSS7E
The first spike in deaths for Estonia seems to happen after the 2008 financial crisis, but I'm surprised to see that the dfinancial crisis hit Estonia harder than the US?
What other facts give Estonia a surprisingly high mortality rate from opiates?
Meanwhile, they were not home to add to the public health statistics, while those who couldn't do that stayed behind, including those who fell into opiate addiction.
So the stats make the Estonian situation look more miserable than it was. (Which is plenty miserable, mind.)
If that money was sent home to Estonia, then it is getting measured in the impact it has on GDP. It shows up in, for one example, household consumption data.
Jane takes remittance money, goes into a shop in Tallinn, makes a purchase. Now that's part of GDP. Jane pays her rent with remittance money, now that's part of GDP.
That's exactly how it should work. Further, those remittances are a small minority share of all generated production by that person - leftover savings (which can then be shifted) after expenses necessary for existing in France/England.
Mexico as one famous example often leads the world in remittance figures, money coming from the US ($20-$30 billion per year). The impact of that remittance money shows up directly in the measured GDP figures of Mexico. It's still only 2% of the Mexico economy each year however.
If you look at Estonia's remittance numbers, you see a modest increase after the great recession. That increase difference would be a trivial share of their economic results, 0.3% or so. Total annual remittances today are higher now than they were in 2010-2013. Back then it was typically 200m-300m euro annually, or roughly 1% of GDP (nowhere near meaningfully denting the 14% decline figure referenced by the parent).
Heroin is less dangerous than paracetamol (though much more highly addictive) and almost all the harms arise from reusing injection equipment, poly drug use, unknown strength or the drug being cut with crap: https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/politics/20...
So yes we should admit that the war is unwinnable but not as an admission of defeat but rather that we are finally doing the obvious thing and that regressive politicians and voters who have prolonged the phony war on drugs are never let near public health or criminal policy again.
Even if that's the case (I don't think it is), maybe we should try the things that cost a lot less? Maybe legalize it and tax the hell out of it? Cut out the illegal market by legalizing the sales and production channels? As a bonus, you will get much more accurate statistics about drug use, the effectiveness of countermeasures, and you get better quality control.
We also haven't tried the most harsh but cost-effective solution: flood the market with 100% lethal knockoffs, consequences be damned.
There are solutions to the drug problem, just like there are solutions to the alcohol problem. Going to war with a concept is just not one of those solutions.