Nicola Sturgeon says Scotland ‘must resist' Westminster control
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Annemarie Ward, CEO of Faces and Voices of Recovery (FAVOR) UK has condemned the Scottish Government’s handling of Scotland’s ongoing drug death crisis. Reacting to figures released today by the Scottish Government, Ms Ward stated she was “not surprised, primarily because absolutely nothing has changed in Scotland.”
Ms Ward added: “The leadership is both sclerotic and inept, so there is absolutely no reason why we would see anything different, because nothing has changed.
“There’s no change of leadership, there’s no change of services.
“There have been announcements of more funding, but there has not been any trickle-down into the local authorities where that money is being spent.”
This new data highlight just a 1 percent decrease in the drug death figures for the first six months of 2021, compared to the same period of 2020.
722 people are reported to have died from drugs in Scotland in the first half of 2021.
Looking at the past 12 months, from June 2020 to June 2021 there were 1,402 suspected drug deaths, which is the third-highest figure on record.
Scotland tops the rest of Europe with the most deaths per head of population as a result of illegal substances.
The drug-related death rate in Scotland is nearly four times that of England and Wales, which means three people are dying in Scotland every single day from drugs.
These astronomical death rates have put pressure on the Scottish Government to put in new measures to pull down the number of fatalities from drug misuse.
These include heroin-assisted treatment clinics, where long-term heroin users self-administer medical-grade heroin in a sanitised and safe environment.
New initiatives to distribute naloxone, a drug that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose, are being looked at and implemented as potential antidotes to Scotland’s drug death rates.
Increasing the availability of naloxone is one of the aims of the Scottish Drug Death Taskforce, which was set up in 2019.
The new position of Minister for Drugs Policy was also created, now held by Angela Constance.
Figures released by the National Records of Scotland this year show that in 2020, there were 1,339 drug-related deaths, which was the highest figure ever recorded.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told the Scottish Parliament in January of this year that “responsibility for that rests – first and foremost – with government.”
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To tackle the drug death rate in Scotland, continued the SNP leader, “requires a national mission to end what is currently a national disgrace.”
However, Ms Ward stated called this “political posturing, and it’s rhetoric.”
“It’s good rhetoric – they’re saying the right things, they’re saying that they’ve failed and that they haven’t done enough,” she stated, whilst stressing that the impact of new initiatives was limited for the people who need it most.
And for those, it’s a blow to see the death rates from drugs continue to impact so many in Scotland.
Ms Ward added: “It’s absolutely tragic and devastating for all the families who continue to lose their loved ones.”
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