Cocaine use in Scotland has soared in the past five years, new figures show, while heroin has seen a sustained fall.
The Scottish drugs misuse database has shown a 14% increase between 2015-16 and 2019-20 in cocaine and crack cocaine among users who reported taking drugs in the past month, making it the second most popular main drug in Scotland, behind heroin.
Between 2006-07 and 2015-16, cocaine was the main drug of between 5% and 8% of users, but that figure rose to 21% in the most recent year.
The opiate has seen a sustained fall in use as a person’s main drug since 2006-07, when it was the chief substance for 63% of reported users, dropping to 42% in 2019-20.
Reported use of heroin as a main drug among those under the age of 25 has also dropped significantly, from 58% in 2006-07 to just 18% in 2019-20, according to the figures.
The database also found the age of users coming forward for specialist treatment was growing, with 29% over the age of 35 in 2006-07, compared to 54% in 2019-20.
The figures come as doctors in Scotland have called for serious consideration to be given to decriminalising drugs, as well as the development of safe consumption rooms in major population centres to address Scotland’s growing problem with drug deaths.
A report published by the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh also pushed for work to be done by the Scottish and UK Governments to counter the socio-economic issues related to problem drug use.
Professor Angela Thomas, the acting president of the college, said: “Our report proposes some key interventions which can be taken now including the introduction of a drugs consumption room, and a heroin-assisted treatment programme in all major centres in Scotland as we see already at the Glasgow pilot scheme.
“Decriminalising drug use should be considered in Scotland, and the college would urge the UK Government and the Scottish Government to work collaboratively on this key policy area.”
Scottish Lib Dem health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “Scotland has seen absolutely tragic numbers of drug-related deaths in recent years.
“Scottish Liberal Democrats have consistently pressed ministers to issue guidance discouraging prosecutions and investing instead in boosting residential rehab and other methods of support to get people off drugs and back into society.
“Decriminalisation has been Liberal Democrat party policy since the 1990s, even as current Government policy continues to fail our communities.
“We won’t see any improvement in drug misuse figures until we recognise that this is a public health issue first and foremost.”
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