The previous head of the Scottish drug process power mentioned ministers in Edinburgh ought to cease blaming Westminster laws for the massive variety of folks dying on account of drug abuse and concentrate on what may be achieved to deal with the issue.
Professor Catriona Matheson criticized Angela Constance’s feedback yesterday when she referred to as on the UK authorities to cease “criminalizing a few of the most marginalized and weak people” after the nation stays Europe’s capital of drug deaths.
The Minister for Drug Coverage informed The Herald that Thursday’s newest figures underscore that the Scottish authorities must “do extra” to deal with the issue.
She then added that the UK Misuse of Medicine Act wanted to be reviewed and prompt that it “criminalizes” weak folks.
“The regulation on drug abuse is outdated, it’s ineffective, it must be revisited.”
Ms. Constance added: “We, as politicians, additionally must have the braveness to essentially have interaction, focus on and work with communities about what’s going to work.
“What we all know just isn’t working is the criminalization of a few of the most marginalized and weak people within the nation. It would not make communities safer – the truth is, it will increase the hurt.”
Requested what she considered Ms. Constance’s interview with the Herald, Professor Matheson mentioned: “It is good to see the minister admit that her mission just isn’t shifting quick sufficient.
“Nonetheless, the Scottish authorities must concentrate on what we are able to do now – in Scotland, with out attempting to divert consideration from Westminster and the Misuse of Medicine Act.”
The College of Stirling tutorial resigned from a process power shaped in 2019 to deal with a staggering drug dying toll in Scotland late final yr after accusing Ms Constance of haste that endangered lives.
Official figures launched by the Nationwide Register of Scotland (NRS) confirmed that 1,330 folks died as a result of medication in 2021, 9 fewer than in 2020 and the primary drop since 2013. Nonetheless, this quantity continues to be the second highest annual determine. .in recording.
In 2021, opioids remained the main explanation for drug-related deaths in Scotland, accounting for 84 per cent of all deaths.
Nonetheless, the report highlighted a change in the kind of medication implicated in dying, with benzodiazepines inflicting 918 deaths.
The variety of benzodiazepine-related deaths has nearly quintupled since 2015, when there have been 191.
Based on the info, this enhance is principally as a result of road medication, not these prescribed by prescription.
Based on the NRS, greater than two-thirds – 70 % – of those that died from medication have been males, and 65 % of all those that died have been between the ages of 35 and 54.
Dundee Metropolis had the best drug abuse dying fee of any native authority, with 45.2 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants from 2017 to 2021, adopted by Glasgow Metropolis at 44.4 and Inverclyde at 35.7.
Ms Matheson mentioned the variety of deaths would have been larger had it not been for the nationwide distribution of naloxone, a reversal drug, and overdose response groups.
“We’ve got proof that these initiatives have saved lives,” she mentioned.
“The ultimate report of the Activity Power on Drug Deaths targeted on altering tradition and placing residing/life expertise on the middle.
“That is vital, however in itself is not going to result in a fast discount in drug deaths. Attaining the numerous downward shift required requires vital funding within the scientific sector to offer stabilization providers and high quality medical remedy.
“The federal government ought to concentrate on efforts and investments moderately than its haphazard strategy, which is extra about political appeasement than what is required to save lots of those that are at excessive danger of overdose.
“The primary minister mentioned she was going to take over 18 months in the past. Nonetheless, the nationwide mission of the Minister of Narcotics nonetheless lacks an motion plan and a transparent imaginative and prescient of technique and future funding.”
Ms Matheson referred to as for elevated funding in overdose fast response groups; in affected person stability for these at highest danger and in managed drug use amenities designed for areas of very excessive want. She additionally referred to as for elevated funding in scientific analysis into efficient remedies.
A spokesman for the Scottish Authorities mentioned: “The Scottish Authorities is already absolutely targeted on what may be achieved in Scotland beneath the present powers.
“This was underlined in a report by the Narcotics Activity Power itself, which mentioned the UK authorities ought to conduct an intensive evaluation of the Misuse of Medicine Act.”