Harm reduction drugs policies not working in Scotland

Scotland’s drug problem is getting worse despite the Scottish Government spending more than £740 million on trying to tackle drug and alcohol abuse over the last ten years.

A report by Audit Scotland reviewed the effects of the Government’s strategies for addicts, concluding that Scotland’s drug problem has not improved in a decade.

According to official statistics, the number of drug-related deaths is expected to reach 1,000 this year.

‘Significant issues’

Scotland has an estimated 56,000 problem drug users.

Statistics last year revealed that drug-related deaths in Scotland rose from 545 in 2009 to 934 in 2017 – eight times higher than the average for EU nations.

Graham Sharp, Chairman of the Accounts Commission for Scotland, said: “Problem drug and alcohol use and their impacts continue to be significant issues for Scotland.”

‘Out of control’

Earlier this year Professor Neil McKeganey, a leading academic in the field, said the Scottish Government’s emphasis on so-called harm reduction policies is to blame for growing drug problems.

Between 2013 and 2017 heroin-related deaths more than doubled in Scotland, while deaths from anti-anxiety drugs such as diazepam rose from 195 to 552.

Prof McKeganey said: “Year after year, the mortality rate goes up and up.”

He added, “it’s so far out of control now that something very different clearly has to be done”.