Cole-Hamilton: New strategy must treat drug misuse as a health issue

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP has today warned that drug misuse must be treated as a health issue rather than “criminalising and penalising” ahead of the publication of the Scottish Government’s new drugs strategy tomorrow.

Mr Cole-Hamilton used a topical question to the Health Secretary today to press the Government over figures uncovered by the Liberal Democrats this week which show almost 600 babies have been born dependent on substances since 2015. Cabinet Secretary Jeane Freeman would not reveal whether measures to address neonatal abstinence syndrome would be included in the new strategy.

The symptoms of NAS, caused by drugs passing from the mother to the foetus during pregnancy, include uncontrollable trembling, hyperactivity, blotchy skin and high-pitch crying.

Commenting ahead of the publication of the new strategy, Mr Cole-Hamilton said:

“I want to make Scotland the best place to grow up but this will never be the case so long as children are being born every other day dependent on substances.

“The Scottish Government’s draft strategy did nothing to address neonatal abstinence syndrome or the challenges facing expectant mothers.

“This new strategy must rectify that lapse and finally focus on treating drug misuse as a health issue, supporting people instead of criminalising and penalising them."

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