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Decriminalise drugs, Scottish physicians say

Tuesday March 2nd 2021

UK governments should consider decriminalising possession of drugs to tackle rising death rates, Scottish physicians say today.

Bold policies are needed to reduce the toll of deaths from illegal drugs in Scotland, according to the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh.

It calls for special studies of multi-drug use, warning that these account for 94% of deaths from drugs.

All of Scotland’s major centres should have heroin-assisted treatment programmes while there should be more “joined up” care for users and for those who have completed rehab or been discharged from hospital, it says.

In 2019 1,264 people in Scotland died from the effects of drug abuse compared with 1,187 the year before, according to National Records of Scotland. The college says this is the highest level since records began 25 years ago.

Acting president Professor Angela Thomas said: “Many of the College’s Fellows and Members regularly treat and consult with people who use drugs, and I know that the recent NRS data will be of great concern to them. Our report proposes some key interventions which can be taken now including the introduction of a drugs consumption room, and a heroin assisted treatment programme in all major centres in Scotland as we see already at the Glasgow pilot scheme.

“Decriminalising drug use should be considered in Scotland, and the College would urge the UK Government and the Scottish Government to work collaboratively on this key policy area. We believe that drug-related deaths should be fundamentally treated as a public health issue.”

Professor Roy Robertson, a GP who specialises in addiction medicine at Edinburgh University, said: “The excessive numbers of drug-related deaths in Scotland is a national emergency, indicating a lack of investment in drug services. Drug-related harms is a flawed and neglected area of public health policy which has lasted for many years.”

Tags: Drug & Alcohol Abuse | UK News

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