From the clinic to the street: the changing role of benzodiazepines in the Scottish overdose epidemic

A. McAuley*, C. Matheson, J.R. Robertson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
18 Downloads (Pure)


Drug-related deaths in Scotland increased for seven years in a row between 2014 and 2020 consolidating Scotland’s place at the top of the United Kingdom and European drug-related mortality charts. One of the defining features of this recent and rapid rise has been the role of benzodiazepines which are now involved in two-thirds of all cases. Policy decisions over four decades have contributed to the supply and demand drivers of this unique element of the Scottish overdose crisis. An illicit market once populated by diverted prescription medications is now dominated by a toxic supply of NPS-type benzodiazepines or so-called ‘street benzos’ which have increased the risk environment for people who use drugs. In response, Scotland needs to urgently expand its harm reduction infrastructure and implement safer supply, drug testing and drug consumption rooms. Such a response should be made in parallel to addressing the socioeconomic inequalities which are fuelling an epidemic of global significance.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103512
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Drug Policy
Early online date6 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022


  • overdose
  • benzodiazepines
  • etizolam
  • mortality
  • drugs
  • prescribing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


Dive into the research topics of 'From the clinic to the street: the changing role of benzodiazepines in the Scottish overdose epidemic'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this