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Editor's Choice

How to save drug users’ lives

BMJ 2019; 366 doi: (Published 08 August 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;366:l5050
  1. Richard Hurley, features and debates editor
  1. The BMJ
  1. rhurley{at}
    Follow Richard on Twitter @rich_hurley

Scotland remains the drug overdose capital of Europe, the latest data show (BMJ doi:10.1136/bmj.l4731). Last year 1187 people there died from drug poisoning, more than ever before, up 27% from 2017 and more than double the count in 2008.

Opioids such as heroin are implicated in more than four in five of these deaths, and HIV rates have rapidly risen among Scottish drug injectors (Lancet doi:10.1016/S2352-3018(19)30036-0). The US too is experiencing an epidemic of overdose, with more than 70 000 deaths from opioid poisoning in 2017 (

Such statistics represent the tip of an iceberg of harm affecting not just …

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