More than a million needles were given out to heroin users in Glasgow last year, according to recent figures.
1.2 million needles were handed out as part of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s (NHSGGC) needle exchange programme.
The entire population of Greater Glasgow and Clyde stands at 1.2 million.
Waving the white flag
NHSGGC say that the policy is intended to reduce diseases such as HIV, 36 cases of which have already been identified as a result of drug injection this year. The health board normally sees about ten cases related to drug injection every year.
Between September last year and March this year, more than 2,000 foil packs were also handed out, encouraging drug users to heat up and inhale heroin rather than inject it.
Commenting on the scheme last year, Scottish Conservative chief whip John Lamont MSP described it as giving in to drug addiction.
He said, “people see health boards spending hundreds of thousands facilitating drug use, and wonder if we’re waving the white flag.
He added: “What sort of signal does it send out to those either trying to stop or resist drug use when the NHS is giving such an extensive helping hand to keep the habit going?”
When the programme first came in, a family campaigner compared it to “giving 200 cigarettes to someone who was trying to give up smoking”.
A spokesman for NHSGGC claimed that the programme is designed to “promote engagement with treatment and recovery services”.
He said: “The scheme follows strict national guidance set by the Scottish Government”.