Jackie Baillie, MSP for Dumbarton Constituency, has called for a change of policy direction to end the stigma of drug use and to save lives, as figures this week revealed record levels of drug deaths.
Data published this week showed that 32 drug related deaths occurred last year in West Dunbartonshire, an increase from 20 deaths in 2018. Similarly in Argyll and Bute 13 drug related deaths occurred in 2019, compared to 9 in 2018.
Scotland continues to have the highest drug-related death rate in Europe and a rate almost 3.5 times the UK rate as a whole.
Jackie Baillie has called for an end to the stigma towards people who use drugs problematically and has demanded a national response to the public health emergency.
Jackie Baillie MSP said:
“Every drug-related death is an avoidable tragedy, and the scale of the crisis in Scotland demands a radical rethink from all political leaders.
“Scotland’s drug death rate is one of the worst in the world. We can’t sweep this public health and human rights emergency under the carpet a moment longer. The fact that both West Dunbartonshire’s and Argyll and Bute’s drug deaths have increased significantly in such a short period of time shows the extent to which vulnerable people are being forgotten and failed by the structures and systems that are meant to be protecting them.
“The Scottish government must act now. People who misuse drugs and their families need urgent action and telling people whose lives are in turmoil to be patient is insulting and unambitious.
“All political parties should be willing to work together to end the stigma, save lives and to help Scotland’s recovery community thrive.”