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Briggs calls for cross party action to tackle rise in drugs and alcohol deaths.

News release from Miles Briggs MSP:

Briggs calls for cross party action to tackle rise in drugs and alcohol deaths.

Miles Briggs, Lothian MSP and the Shadow Health Secretary, today called for the Scottish Parliament to unite to take action to reduce drugs and alcohol related deaths in Scotland. Miles was speaking in a debate led by Labour MSP Monica Lennon which highlighted that there were 1,265 alcohol-related deaths, and a record 867 drug-related deaths, in 2016, 10% and 23% more respectively than in 2015. Miles also called for an open and honest discussion about the effectiveness of Scotland’s methadone programme.

Speaking in the debate Miles said:

“ I reiterate my call to Scottish Ministers to convene a cross party working group on both Alcohol and Drugs. This is too important and too significant a policy area to be left to the SNP or the Scottish Government alone – we need to challenge thinking to date and it is clear we need to investigate and challenges the status quo – I’m still waiting for Minsters to respond and take forward my suggestion.      

“ I believe tackling this issue can unite the Parliament to work together to develop and implement the policy changes that must be made to ensure that in future years we can demonstrate that our work has led to a decline and a continuous one, in the deaths from alcohol and drugs misuse that devastate too many individuals, families and communities across our country.

“ The vast majority of drug deaths involve opioids and it is alarming that the number of hospital admissions for overdoses from opioids increased substantially in 2016 and was running at almost 50 each week.

“ We need to have an honest and open discussion about the effectiveness of the methadone programme and what alternative approaches and new routes to recovery are available.

“ We support smaller, treatment-focused, local programmes – including abstinence based ones – and know that a blanket approach of substituting illegal drugs with methadone is not the right one for every individual and is not leading to the reduction in drugs deaths we all want to see.

“ And while much of the focus is understandably on opioids, we need to listen to stakeholders such as the Scottish Drugs Forum who have warned that support services for people addicted to other drugs such as cocaine and ecstasy can be seriously lacking, leading to additional pressures on our A&E departments.”

ENDs…

Miles Briggs