Scottish Government backs move towards special drugs centre to tackle health crisis


Specialised drug injecting centre aims to reduce record level of drug deaths 

AN INJECTION CENTRE to provide a safer environment for heroin addicts has the backing of the Scottish Government.

Service providers in Glasgow agreed to develop a business case for the centre at a meeting in the city yesterday [Monday 31 October]. 

The move to develop health focused support for the health crisis surrounding drug addiction has been praised by the Scottish Government’s minister for public health Aileen Campbell MSP. 

Drug-related deaths in Scotland have soared in recent years, hitting an all-time high of 703 during 2015. 

The roots of drugs abuse stem from issues including poverty, homelessness, trauma, and isolation. 

Campbell, responding to questions on the proposal, said: “Glasgow City Joint Integration board agreed yesterday for a business case to be developed to pilot a safer drug consumption facility in heroin-assisted treatment in Glasgow.

“The Scottish Government sees value in this proposal and are supportive of it, subject to the business case – which is to be presented to the Glasgow City Joint Integration board in February 2017 – being acceptable.”

Campbell added that the roots of drugs abuse stem from issues including poverty, homelessness, trauma, and isolation. 

“There are issues around poverty. There are issues around homelessness. There are issues around the trauma that people have going on in their lives that has led them down this path. We need to tackle the stigma,” she said.

The proposal won the backing of David Liddell from the Scottish Drug Forum and SNP MP Alison Thewliss.

Attempts to criminalise drug use – which is caused largely by social problems – has been repeatedly rejected by health experts. 

Earlier this year leading public health experts from the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) and the Faculty of Public Health (FPH) backed calls for full decriminalisation of drugs to reduce stigma and treat the problem as a health issue. 

End the war: call for drug decriminalisation debate in Scotland

In parliament, Scottish Green MSP John Finnie also backed the scheme. 

“The Scottish Green party support community-based supervised medical intervention such as this,” he told parliament. 

“David Liddell of the Scottish Drugs Forum talked about this as being an additional provision to deal with long-term users some of whom ‘abstinence recovery is not on the immediate horizon’,” he explained. 

The Scottish Liberal Democrats have also called on the government to move away from the imprisonment of drugs towards a health-focused approach to drug addiction. 

Further progress on the plan will depend on how the business case for the treatment centre is received in early 2017.

Picture courtesy of Scottish Parliament TV

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