Scotland is facing a drugs death emergency according to Renfrewshire’s Green MSP Ross Greer.
New figures published this month revealed that there were 50 drug deaths in Renfrewshire in 2018, the most for a decade.
In East Renfrewshire there were 11 deaths, this is up by 7 as there were 4 deaths recorded in 2017.
The Scottish figure of 1,187 represents a 27% increase from 2017, figures which were themselves record setting which means Scotland continues to have the highest rate of drug deaths in the EU.
Ross Greer, a Green party MSP, said: “We’ve known for some time that Scotland is in the grip of a drug deaths emergency but these figures are still absolutely shocking and show that far too many families in Renfrewshire are dealing with the devastating effects of this crisis.
“Every single one of these deaths is a tragedy. When it comes to drugs, criminalisation has caused so much more harm than it can claim to have prevented. The ‘war on drugs’ approach has self-evidently failed. Addiction is better tackled by trained medical professionals, not with the strong arm of the law, just as it has been in countries like Portugal, where the rate of drugs-related deaths are a tiny fraction of what they are here.
“If we want to avoid losing thousands more lives both the UK and Scottish Governments must commit to immediately adopting an evidence-based, public health approach. The approach of looking and acting tough hasn’t worked, it’s time we try what we know will make a real difference.”
Councillor Jacqueline Cameron, chair of the Renfrewshire Community Planning Partnership’s Alcohol and Drugs Commission said last week that they were committed to improving outcomes for residents and the recommendations of the commission will be brought forward with the desire to improve the life chances of local people within our communities in Renfrewshire.
The statistics were published by National Records of Scotland last week.
Main image: (left to Right) Ross Greer MSP and Cllr Jacqueline Cameron