Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesman Jim Hume MSP has said that figures published today recording the highest rate of hospital stays due to drug misuse recorded in 18 years, shows a need for a change in approach to drug policy.
Official figures published by ISD Scotland today showed the rate of hospital stays with diagnosis of drug misuse has steadily increased from 40.5 per 100,000 to 123.6 per 100,000 between 1996/1997 to 2013/2014.
The disparity between Scotland’s most deprived and least deprived areas continues to grow, with 295 per 100,000 hospital stays for drug misuse accounting for those from Scotland’s most deprived areas compared to 16.4 per 100,000 from Scotland’s least deprived areas.
Mr Hume said:
“The steadily increasing rate of hospital stays related to drug misuse shows that we are fighting a losing battle. Over the past two decades the rate of hospital stays related to drug misuse has trebled from 40.5 per 100,000 to 123.6 per 100,000.
“Drug misuse relating to heavily addictive opioids such as heroin remain by far the largest cause of hospital admissions, reflecting over two thirds of all drug related hospital stays. It is worrying that those from Scotland’s poorest communities continue to suffer most from the blight of illegal drug misuse, accounting for 295 per 100,000 hospital stays compared to 16.4 per 100,000 from Scotland’s least deprived areas.
“Each person behind those figures has a life left rocked by drug misuse, which can often deeply affect their loved ones and their communities. If we are to enable more people to get on in life, we need a radical change in approach to drug policy in Scotland and the UK. Our drugs laws should be based on what works, not what sounds tough. Much more needs to be done to concentrate on reducing harm from drugs, decreasing dependency, clamping down on dealers and focussing more on treatment than punishment for those found in possession.
"These are sensible calls which would go some way to building the fairer society we all wish to see."