Cole-Hamilton: radical drug reform needed

Scottish Liberal Democrats have called on the Scottish Government to adopt a radical new approach to drug misuse and reverse its 20% cut to support services, after new figures showed drug-related deaths increased to their highest ever level in 2015.

National statistics published today revealed that there were 706 drug-related deaths in 2015 – 15% more than in 2014.

Commenting on the figures, Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP said:

“When will the Scottish Government open its eyes and see that the current strategy is failing drug users, their family and friends. We need a new approach, particularly if we are to reach out to the ageing group of people who have a long history of misuse.

“These appalling figures are further evidence, were it needed, that services must be there to support people in turning their lives around before it is too late. The indefensible 20% cut to the budget of Drugs services that SNP ministers handed down this year must be reversed, before more vital local facilities shut their doors or scale back opportunities to intervene.

“The steady rise in drug-related deaths over the last two decades also shows the need for much more radical reform. It is time drug misuse should be treated as a health issue, rather than a criminal one. For example, we need to end the use of imprisonment for personal possession, which can destroy someone’s life chances, and instead divert these people to rehabilitation services.

“Drug misuse tears families and communities apart. It’s time for the Scottish Government to admit the current strategy is not working and deliver radical reform.”

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