South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has said that the Scottish Government’s Drug Strategy is failing after drug related death figures showed a 113% increase in deaths in Dumfries and Galloway over the past decade.
The latest figures published by the National Records of Scotland show that between 2004 and 2008 the annual average number of drug related deaths in the region was eight, however, between 2014 and 2018 that average figure had increased to seventeen. This means the average number of drug related deaths in Dumfries and Galloway has increased by 113%.
Colin Smyth has also raised concerns that the same report shows that the rate of drug related deaths amongst people aged under 34 in Dumfries and Galloway is higher than the Scottish average. For 15-24 year olds the drug-related death rate was 0.09, while for 25 – 34 years olds the rate was 0.30. The Scottish average currently stands at 0.07 and 0.25 respectively.
Colin Smyth said, “Although annual figures fluctuate, this reports shows the trend that tragically the average number of drug related deaths in Dumfries and Galloway is increasing rising by over 100% in the past decade and unless we act quickly this trend will continue. Behind these figures are devastated mother, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters who have lost a loved one.
It is clear that the Scottish Government’s Drug Strategy just isn’t working and it is time the Scottish Government use every power available to them to tackle Scotland’s drug problem. That means looking at new approaches, investing in services and ditching the failing status quo. The UK Government must also reassess its approach and listen to experts and those living with substance misuse to find the best way to stop more families being left heartbroken.
It is very concerning that drug related death trends for young people in our region is above the national average. The UK and Scottish Government must wake up to the impact of the austerity and cuts agenda they have pursued. Investing in education, policing, youth work services and our NHS would mean we could increase the prevention agenda and education and have resources in place to tackle drug taking which would help to reduce the number of drug related deaths in future.”