Scotland’s failure to counter its growing drugs menace has become a national emergency.
A death rate which was slipping out of control as far back as 2007 has now reached epidemic proportions – especially when compared with our European neighbours.
Starting tomorrow, the Record will publish a new series of articles which will ask: What can be done about
Scotland’s drug deaths?
Featuring many voices and perspectives, we will speak to academics who are at odds with each other’s
ideological stances, as well as GPs and recovery specialists running residential abstinence programmes.
We will also feature heart-rending tales from ordinary people whose lives have been blighted by drug dependency – including long-term drug users and their families.
Their revelations make clear that, for every life lost to drugs, there are many others blighted by the mental scars associated with tragedy – sisters, brothers, sons, daughters, mums , dads and more.
Some of the questions asked include:
● Have the benefits of the methadone and other opiate replacement therapies been shattered by the explosion in cheap street drugs?
● Are too many people “parked” on methadone for decades?
● Should more funds be set aside to bring more people into properly supervised ORT regimes, rather than be driven to street drugs?
● Is it right that the UK Government believes a lifetime on methadone might be regarded as a successful outcome for some?
● Should drugs laws be devolved and should this lead Scotland to decriminalise drug possession, set up safe consumption rooms and move to genuinely radical action?
● Is decent housing the key to meaningful lives and should this become the focus of massive Government funding?
● Should we fund more long-term residential abstinence-based detox programmes?
● Should we promptly establish a proper register of how many people are on methadone and ascertain how many are moving towards a life free from drugs?
Our forum will feature politicians and GPs whose jobs have given them first-hand knowledge of the way drugs are wrecking the lives of their patients and constituents. And we will investigate genuinely radical moves that are being made on a small scale to bring life skills to those prepared to be abstinent on long-term residential, community-based programmes.
The Record has heard many stories over the years of people whose only wish is to get clear of methadone, amid claims by many they are being “held” – sometimes against their will – on such programmes.
A review of methadone in 2013, after our series of stories, promised much but resulted in no improvement.
The number of methadone deaths rocketed from 237 at the time of the inquiry to 2013 to 439 in 2017. Heroin related deaths more than doubled in the same period and benzo-diazepine deaths rocketed from 196 to 552, as street “benzos” like diazepam and etizolam took hold of Scottish streets with devastating effect.
Many academics and GPs stress the huge risk of overdose and relapse for those who try to get free of drugs too quickly.
Prominent experts believe reducing the stigma against drug addicts is the best way to begin solving the problem.
The Record accept there is no easy solution.