AN ESTIMATED 2900 people in Fife are problem drug users.

The figures examined by members of the Health and Social Care Integration Joint Board on Friday revealed that the number of drug related deaths rose to 81 in 2019 compared to 64 the previous year.

The Scottish Health Survey data also reported that 84 per cent of adults in Fife report drinking alcohol, with approximately 71,000 adults in Fife consuming in excess of the recommended safe amount of 14 units per week.

From 2015 to 2019, alcohol specific deaths in Fife were 17.2 per 100,000 of the population – lower than the Scottish average of 20.6 per 100,000.

Fife was one of only two health board in Scotland to see an increase in the alcohol mortality rate in 2019 when the total was 70 deaths compared to 59 deaths in 2018.

The rate of Alcohol related hospital stays in Fife was 702.48 per 100,000 of population which exceeded the Scottish rate of 673.27.

The rate of drug related stays in Fife was 254.45 per 100,000, higher the Scottish rate of 200.16. The majority of drug related stays involved opioids.

Alcohol Drugs Partnership (ADP) Elizabeth Butters said they were continuing to look at increasing access to services from year to year.

"When people engage with services it is a protective service against harm," she said. "The whole point to that is we need to work very hard to eliminate unplanned discharge. People leaving that care before they have achieved recovery goals and there is work going on around that, particularly during covid.

"Almost all services adopted a no discharge policy and we need to take that forward past covid and do a lot more intensive work to ensure people don't fall out of the system of care.

"That takes capacity to be able to do that. Scottish Government funding will be used to do that. What we need to do is get more people into services and make sure fewer people leave it before they are ready."

Chief Social Work officer Kathy Henwood said their services were also supported by groups with experiences of using substances which, she hoped, would help them get to the roots of some issues.

She added: "What we do know is being visible, accessible, non judgemental and respectful as a benchmark is how we want to move forward, picking up people's different needs at different times.

"We obviously want to be able to give assurances and further statistics that the spend is reaching where it needs to reach and making the impact we require."