Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has today demanded specialist drug and alcohol commissions and for the Scottish Government to call in the expertise of the World Health Organisation after new figures showed 1,330 people died drug-related deaths in 2021 – just 9 deaths fewer than in 2020.
Drug-related deaths increased in four local authority areas in 2021. People in Scotland's most deprived areas are now fifteen times more likely than those in the least deprived areas to die from drugs.
The statistics will leave Scotland’s drug-related deaths at three and a half times the rate of anywhere else in Europe.
Last week the Changing Lives Report, published by the Scottish Government’s Drugs Death Taskforce last week, found that the current funding for drug and alcohol treatment is “woefully inadequate.”
Responding to the latest figures, Mr Cole-Hamilton commented:
“Today’s news that 1,330 people had their lives cut short by drugs is horrendous. It will be a painful day for all their families and it must compel government to go much further and faster.
“It will mean drug deaths remain almost four times worse than anywhere else in Europe. By the First Minister’s own admission, her government took its eye off the ball. It will forever be a scar on the conscience of this Scottish Government and a legacy of its fixation on breaking up the UK over everything else.
“It’s time for new measures to stop people dying. For instance, we urgently need specialist drug and alcohol commissions similar to what happens in Portugal, to end the destructive use of imprisonment for people misusing drugs, and to make safe consumption spaces available across the country. Ministers should also ask the WHO to send experts in drug mortality to help mobilise against this particularly Scottish epidemic.
“The Scottish Government owes it to families to do everything possible to stop people dying.”