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Scotland Looks to Rethink Drug Policy After Surge in Deaths

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By Dow Jones & Company
Scotland Looks to Rethink Drug Policy After Surge in Deaths
Copyright  Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

EDINBURGH—Twenty-five years ago, the movie adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s novel “Trainspotting” revealed a different side to the Scottish capital. Far from the tourist shops and winding medieval alleyways, its bleak comic vision focused instead on the city’s heroin users and the lottery of sharing HIV-tainted needles.

Today, drug deaths across Scotland are three times higher than then, reaching a record 1,339 last year out of a population of 5½ million—by far the highest rate in Europe on a per capita basis and not far off the U.S., where an epidemic of synthetic opioids contributed to more than 100,000 fatal overdoses in the 12 months through April.

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