South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has said that the Scottish Government’s Drug Strategy is failing after drug related death figures showed a 200% increase in deaths in the Scottish Borders over the past decade.
The latest figures published by the National Records of Scotland show that between 2005 and 2009 the annual average number of drug related deaths in the region was five, however, between 2015 and 2019 that average figure had increased to 15. This means the average number of drug related deaths in the Scottish Borders has increased by 200%.
Across Scotland, 1,264 drug related deaths occurred last year, a six per cent increase from 2018.
Scotland continues to have the highest drug-related death rate in Europe and a rate almost 3.5 times the UK as a whole.
Colin Smyth said: “Although annual figures fluctuate, this report shows the trend that tragically the average number of drug related deaths in the Scottish Borders is increasing – rising by 200% in the past decade and unless we act quickly this trend will continue.
“Behind these figures are devastated mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters who have lost a loved one, every single drug death is a tragedy.
“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.
“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.”