A Labour and Conservative MSP are making a joint plea to Scotland’s First Minister to declare Scotland’s growing drugs problem a public health emergency.
Monica Lennon, the Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, said more help needs to be offered to addicts beyond existing ‘stigmatised’ drugs programmes.
Writing for the Daily Record, she said the Scottish Government must “initiate a statutory public inquiry” and help vulnerable people and families to get “vital support”.
Problem drug users
Scotland has an estimated 56,000 problem drug users.
Official figures also reveal that Scotland’s drug-related death rates are eight times higher than the average for EU nations, and hit a record 934 in 2017.
In his accompanying piece for the Record, Scottish Conservative Health Spokesman Miles Briggs said, “there should be a wholesale review of the methadone programme, which is simply not working in getting people drug-free”.
Briggs said: “The last major Scottish Government strategy plan, unveiled 10 years ago, has failed to deliver.”
He added: “The human cost is immense – drugs wreck families, destroy lives and are holding back some of our poorest communities.”
“Our premise is simple: we don’t think users need a drugs plan to help manage their addiction, we think they need a life plan to help them end their addiction.”
‘A national priority’
Lennon concluded: “Almost 15,000 people died over the duration of the last Scottish Government drug and alcohol strategy.”
“It’s now over to the First Minister to make this a national priority.”
The plea comes as NHS Scotland announced it will open the UK’s first Heroin Assisted Treatment centre, which will see nurses distribute heroin to addicts up to three times a day.