New report highlights link between drug deaths and traumatic experiences

Commenting on a new report into drug deaths in Tayside last year which revealed that 62 out of 78 people (79.5%) who died as a result of using drugs were recorded as having experienced at least one adverse event during their lifetime, Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP said:

“The link between unresolved childhood trauma and alcohol and drug misuse is well documented. It underscores the need for us to swiftly identify those who have experienced an adverse childhood experience and get support to them early.

“People can heal from trauma decades after the fact, but we need to know who these people are and ensure that there is an adequate supply of local provision to assist them.

“Scotland has the worst drugs death statistics in Europe. We need to tackle the reasons behind people’s dependency on drugs if we are to make a dent in these numbers.”

Scottish Liberal Democrats recently published a 10-point plan for tackling alcohol and drugs misuse, which calls for:

  1. A ministerial commitment to protect the budgets of alcohol and drug partnerships for the duration of the strategy, after the Scottish Government implemented a 20% cut to services in 2016/17;
  2. A ministerial commitment to cease sending people caught in possession of drugs for their own personal use to prison, as happens hundreds of times a year, and instead send them for treatment and education;
  3. An explanation of why drug treatment and testing orders, which the strategy says “can have a positive impact on both drug use and offending”, were only used 31 times in response to 4,400 convictions for possession in 2016/17;
  4. Local authorities to make licensing decisions based on venues’ efforts to keep their customers safe, instead of punishing them for incidents on their premises;
  5. The Scottish Government to back a regulated cannabis market, taking it out of the hands of criminals and tackling trends including increased potency which the strategy describes as “concerning”;
  6. The Scottish Government to establish proposals for a Scotland-wide network for the provision of heroin-assisted treatment, expanding on preliminary plans for a site in Glasgow;
  7. Drug-testing to be deployed at localities where there is a need, allowing at risk users to find out what is in a substance and offer advice on harm reduction.
  8. Adverse childhood experiences to be routinely recorded as recommended by Scottish Government advisor Sir Harry Burns;
  9. Additional action to address neonatal abstinence syndrome through support for expectant mothers;
  10. The minimum unit price of alcohol to be raised to 60p to meet the policy’s original ambition and account for inflation in the years that the policy’s implementation was delayed.

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