Injecting drug users in Scotland, 2006: listing, number, demography, and opiate-related death-rates

Ruth King, Sheila Bird, Antony Overstall, Gordon Hay, Sharon Hutchinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Using Bayesian capture-recapture analysis, we estimated the number of current injecting drug users (IDUs) in Scotland in 2006 from the cross-counts of 5670 IDUs listed on four data-sources: social enquiry reports (901 IDUs listed), hospital records (953), drug treatment agencies (3504), and recent Hepatitis C virus (HCV) diagnoses (827 listed as IDU-risk). Further, we accessed exact numbers of opiate-related drugs-related deaths (DRDs) in 2006 and 2007 to improve estimation of Scotland's DRD rates per 100 current IDUs. Using all four data-sources, and model-averaging of standard hierarchical log-linear models to allow for pairwise interactions between data-sources and/or demographic classifications, Scotland had an estimated 31700 IDUs in 2006 (95% credible interval: 24900?38700); but 25000 IDUs (95% CI: 20700?35000) by excluding recent HCV diagnoses whose IDU-risk can refer to past injecting. Only in the younger age-group (15?34 years) were Scotland's opiate-related DRD rates significantly lower for females than males. Older males? opiate-related DRD rate was 1.9 (1.24?2.40) per 100 current IDUs without or 1.3 (0.94?1.64) with inclusion of recent HCV diagnoses. If, indeed, Scotland had only 25000 current IDUs in 2006, with only 8200 of them aged 35+ years, the opiate-related DRD rate is higher among this older age group than has been appreciated hitherto. There is counter-balancing good news for the public health: the hitherto sharp increase in older current IDUs had stalled by 2006.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-246
Number of pages12
JournalAddiction Research and Theory
Issue number3
Early online date4 Sep 2012
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013


  • Bayesian
  • Capture-recapture
  • Injectors
  • Opiate-related deaths
  • Sex
  • Age


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