South Scotland Labour MSP Colin Smyth has called on the Scottish Government to increase funding for local Alcohol and Drug Partnerships.

The call comes as figures released last week from the National Records of Scotland showed that the average number of drug related deaths in Dumfries and Galloway had increased by 113% since 2004.

Alcohol and Drug Partnerships are responsible for commissioning treatment services for those suffering with alcohol and drug addictions. However, figures collated by Colin Smyth MSP show that core funding from the Scottish Government Dumfries and Galloway Alcohol and Drug Partnership has been cut. Since 2014/15 the Scottish Government has reduced core funding for the partnership by £460,033, or 28% in real terms.

Colin Smyth said, “With the tragic news that more people are dying as a result of drugs, the need to provide proper support for those suffering with addiction has never been more important. It is unbelievable that in the middle of a drug and alcohol crisis, core funding to vital support ­networks has seen a reduction in recent years. You cannot reduce the core funding for Dumfries and Galloway Alcohol and Drug Partnerships funding by nearly a third over the past five years and not limit the lifesaving work they can do. The Government needs to ­invest in core ADP funding, not slash support to those who badly need help.

While some additional Government funding can be secured through a bidding process, the overall cut to core funding reduces ADPs ability to support those suffering from addiction in Dumfries and Galloway. The loss of a single life through drugs is one too many, but the loss of 20 per year in our region is an absolute tragedy. Ending this appalling waste of lives will be a complex issue and require everyone to work together to find a range of solutions. But there is no doubt that properly funding the work of Alcohol and Drug Partnerships is part of that solution, that’s why I would like to see funding increased and the cuts made in recent years reversed.”

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