Responding to the Scottish Government publishing its new drug and alcohol strategy, Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP commented:
“The failure of the last strategy, cooked up as part of a budget deal between the SNP and Conservatives, can be measured in human lives. It has contributed to the crisis that has seen a 50% increase in drug-related hospitalisations and deaths reaching an all-time high.
“The new strategy rightly sets an ambition to finally treat drug misuse as a health rather than criminal issue, but it doesn’t go far enough to meet that ambition.
“For example, we need a crystal-clear commitment to stop sending people caught in possession of drugs for their own personal use to prison. It makes sense to send them for treatment and education instead of somewhere like HMP Addiewell where one study found half of those released tested positive for drugs.
“We also need to record adverse childhood experiences so supported can be targeted towards these young people who, as a result of going through these, can be up to 11 times more likely to have used crack cocaine or heroin.
“Scotland’s record on drugs and alcohol is shameful. It is time to learn from the evidence of what works elsewhere around the world and support people misusing drugs, instead of penalising and criminalising them.”