New figures that reveal a further rise in drug deaths in Scotland, should “shame us all”, according to South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth.
More than 1,300 people died of drug misuse in Scotland last year, with the country seeing a record number of deaths for the seventh year in a row. The annual figures showed that there were 1,339 drug deaths last year – an increase of 75 from the 1,264 recorded the previous year.
In the South of Scotland, there have been increases in the Scottish Borders, Lanarkshire and Lothian. Although the figures for Dumfries and Galloway show a fall to 22 deaths in 2020 compared to the previous year, the level is nearly four times higher than a decade ago. Health bosses last week also revealed that there had already been a suspected 25 drug related deaths in Dumfries and Galloway in the first six months of 2021 alone.
Commenting on the latest figures, South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth said: “The continuing rise in drug related deaths should shame us all. We should never forget that behind each of these figures is a preventable tragedy where a loved one’s life has been cut far too short.
“It’s not good enough just to hear the Scottish Government express regret every year when these figures are published, we need action. Cuts in funding for rehab a few years ago are taking a heavy toll, and just with any disease, we urgently need to see more investment to treat people.
“Of course, current drug laws should be looked at but we should not forget that Scotland has the same laws as the rest of the UK but three and a half times the rate of drug deaths.
“Ultimately, unless we tackle the underlying causes of this disease such as poverty, poor housing, and the shocking education attainment gap, then we will fail to get to grips with this growing crisis.”