SNP has to ask itself questions when it publishes figures on drug deaths

The leader of the Scottish Conservatives on Tuesday called for the number of people who died directly as a result of drug abuse in 2022 ahead of the annual release of National Records of Scotland.

Scotland has the highest rate of drug-related deaths in Europe and the Scottish Drugs Forum, which supports people with addiction problems, has warned that by releasing the latest figures it expects this situation to continue.

Mr Ross proposed the Right to Recovery Bill ahead of the 2021 Holyrood election.

READ MORE: The SNP minister said he should halt public health cuts over fears of drug deaths

The bill would enshrine in law the right of addicts to access their preferred form of treatment unless a doctor determines it is harmful.

In 2021, 1,330 people died from a drug-related death in Scotland – a rate of about 245 deaths per million people – a rate 3.8 times higher than the second worst European country Norway and 4.9 times higher than England and Wales.

The First Secretary expressed support for the Tory bill during his race to succeed Nicola Sturgeon as First Secretary and SNP leader.

But Mr Ross said the Scottish Government is not acting quickly enough as he accused ministers of focusing on drug decriminalization.

READ MORE: The SNP’s Angela Constance said she should focus on what she can do to tackle drug deaths

Last month, the Scottish Government released a drug law reform paper calling on the UK Government to decriminalize all drugs for personal use.

It would ensure that those in possession of substances are treated and promoted rather than criminalized. However, the UK government rejected the proposals within an hour of the publication’s release.

Mr Ross said: “The scale of the drug death crisis in Scotland cannot be overstated – this is truly a national emergency.”

“The death toll here is so much higher than in the rest of Europe and the rest of the UK that after years of shameful neglect by the SNP it requires the full attention of the Scottish Government.”

“Humza Yousaf must learn from the mistakes of Nicola Sturgeon and finally address this issue as a top priority in order to massively reduce the number of Scottish families suffering needless, heartbreaking losses.”

“I would hope – and expect – to see a significant drop from last year’s appalling totals, but even if that were the case, Scotland is likely to remain an appalling outlier for the continent.”

“One of the biggest problems for people with addiction problems is access to treatment.”

“That’s why the Right to Recovery Bill I’m passing in Parliament is crucial – as it would enshrine in law everyone’s right to the potentially life-saving treatment they need – and why it’s being supported by experts, charities and others.” will.” lived experience.

“Humza Yousaf made encouraging tones about supporting the bill during the SNP leadership election, but has remained quiet ever since. Worryingly, he appears to be advocating drug decriminalization instead.”

“We need the SNP to stop hesitating and get behind the Right to Recovery bill wholeheartedly. Tackling the infamy of drug deaths in Scotland must finally be a top priority for Humza Yousaf and his government.”

Alex Cole-Hamilton, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, this morning urged Mr Yousaf to end the “national shame” of drug deaths in Scotland.

“Like many others, I fear the publication of these numbers,” he said.

“Every drug death is preventable, so I’ll never understand why Nicola Sturgeon, as she herself admits, lost sight of the ball and cut tens of millions of essential services.

“With deaths now many times worse than anywhere else in Europe, Humza Yousaf must do what his predecessor failed to end this national disgrace.”

“The Scottish Liberal Democrats want the immediate introduction of specialized drug commissions, safe consumption rooms and the decriminalization of drug abuse so that people can get treatment instead of jail time. It is time to stop people from dying.”

The Liberal Democrats are calling for the introduction of a range of measures they believe would reduce drug-related deaths.

They include:

• Establishment of heroin-assisted treatment and safe consumption rooms.

• Creation of new specialized family drug and alcohol commissions to provide comprehensive services and take a holistic approach to those reported for drug-related offences, while learning from international best practices such as that in Portugal.

• To redirect individuals found in possession of drugs for personal use to education, treatment and recovery and, in these circumstances, to end incarceration.

• Adopting the principle that individuals and families should not pay for the care and treatment of people who are at risk from drugs and alcohol.

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