Local Labour MSP Colin Smyth has said that the Scottish Government’s Drug Strategy is failing after new figures have showed drug related deaths have increased in Dumfries and Galloway.

The figures released by National Records Scotland show that in 2017, 22 deaths occurred as a result of a drug related incident.

Colin Smyth MSP has previously highlighted the devastating affect that Government cuts have had to the work of the local Alcohol and Drug Partnership. The budget allocated to health boards for Alcohol and Drug Partnerships in 2016/17 was £53.8 million – down from £69.2 million in 2015/16.

In Dumfries and Galloway, that led to a cut in direct funding from £1.98 million to £1.53 million. Although local health boards were asked to make up that difference, NHS Dumfries and Galloway was able to find only £234,000 of the £452,000 shortfall.

Colin Smyth MSP said, “These devastating figures demonstrate that sadly the Scottish Government’s Drugs Strategy isn’t working and we need a rethink. It also exposes what folly it was for the Scottish Government to cut funding for Alcohol and Drug Partnerships. I am aware that plans by the local Alcohol and Drugs Partnership for new services such as a family support service for local families facing alcohol and drugs issues had to be put on hold as a result of the cuts.

Behind these figures are families who will be left to cope with the grief and trauma for years to come.

With drug related deaths on the rise in Dumfries and Galloway and higher than those just over the border in England, the Scottish Government must have the courage to take a different tact from the current strategy and that includes properly funding Alcohol and Drug Partnerships to make sure everything possible is done to help those suffering from alcohol and drug related issues.”

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