The amount of Scottish taxpayers’ money spent on methadone for addicts has soared in the last year, despite Government promises to move away from failed ‘harm reduction’ policies.
Figures show a 19 per cent rise in one year with over £25m of Scottish Government spending going to methadone treatments to keep addicts hooked on the drug as a substitute for heroin.
There are also reports that the Government is thinking about giving addicts “injection rooms” and anti-overdose medication, together with counselling for “stressed” junkies.
Scottish Tory Justice Spokesman, Bill Aitken said, “The idea of safe injecting rooms sends out the wrong message. We should be discouraging people from taking drugs.
“Anything that makes drug-taking more comfortable really is not in the best of interests”.
In May the Government announced a new five-point-plan to tackle Scotland’s growing drugs problem, which included a move away from the ‘harm reduction’ policy. The Scottish Government said it would focus on “recovery and helping people live drug-free lives”.
Annabel Goldie, the leader of Scotland’s Conservative Party has written to First Minister, Alex Salmond, demanding to know when the Government will make good on its promise to ditch ‘harm reduction’ policies.
She said she welcomed the Government’s national drug strategy which recognises recovery and abstinence, but wrote: “It is urgent that we move from the aspiration of a new approach, as outlined in the new national drugs strategy, to real action”.
Mrs Goldie added “It is all too evident we have become over-dependent on methadone as a treatment and when we still have addicts waiting for over two years to get other forms of rehabilitation, the scale of the problem becomes clear”.
Earlier this year, Prof Neil McKeganey of Glasgow University’s Centre for Drug Misuse Research attacked the current methadone programme saying:
“I think we need to refocus where that money is spent. We need to massively increase the availability of residential rehabilitation… at the moment our treatment centres are log-jammed.”
A Scottish Executive spokesman said, “an expert group – The National Forum on Drug-Related Deaths will consider the findings and advise on how best they can be taken forward”.