Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP today warned that cuts to drug and alcohol services could leave people stranded as new figures revealed that more than 3000 children were treated for drug or alcohol misuse in the last two years.
The statistics, obtained by the Liberal Democrats through Freedom of Information requests, showed that 3336 children were admitted to emergency departments or to hospital in 2014-15 and 2015-16 as a result of drug and alcohol misuse.
Mr Cole-Hamilton called on the Scottish Government to look again at drug and alcohol education in schools and for a review of SNP cuts to central drug and alcohol service funding that saw money slashed by 20% this year.
Commenting, Mr Cole-Hamilton said:
“There is no silver bullet to tackling Scotland’s drink and drug problems but it is fair to say that cutting resources for drug and alcohol services will not help one bit, and could leave people stranded. For the Government to pass the buck to health boards when so many other elements of the health service are under the cosh is just not good enough. They need to look at this again.
“With thousands of children over the last two years having received treatment after drug and alcohol misuse it is clear that education has a vital role to play in keeping children and families safe. This means helping parents keep prescription medicines and other drugs safe at home and working to ensure that older children understand fully the risks associated with drinking and drug use.
“The idea of one of my children requiring hospital treatment as a result of drugs or alcohol leaves me in a cold sweat. I want them to get the education they need to take healthy choices.
“Scotland’s drink problem is well documented and our approach to tackling drug misuse has often seemed to be based on fear of difficult headlines rather than a proper evidence base. We need to see drug addiction and alcoholism treated as medical issues.”