Glasgow Drug Summit To Discuss What To Do About Drug Deaths Amid Record-Breaking Toll
Scotland is currently facing a crisis over the rising number of drug-related deaths across the country. This may be about to get worse as Covid-19 diverts NHS resources to other activities.
The past few years have seen a tragic spike in the number of fatalities. In 2018, almost 1200 deaths in Scotland were drug-related. This number may be higher in 2019. Reportedly, Glasgow had the largest number of drug deaths in 2018. So it was sadly fitting that the city would be the site of a major summit on how to tackle the problem.
The Scottish Drugs Conference recently took place at the Scottish Events Campus (SEC), on the banks of the River Clyde. Organised by the Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council, it welcomed about 350 delegates from across the United Kingdom. They met to discuss the rise of drug fatalities and what can be done to prevent it.
Key issues and Living with Dependency
The conference allowed those fighting the war against drugs, providing front line services and people with personal experience of addiction the chance to discuss the issues. The delegates talked about what it is like to live with dependency, what may be contributing to the upsurge in drug deaths in Scotland, and how to find a solution.
Attendees were also instructed on the proper use of the drug Naloxone to counteract the effects of opioid overdose.
The conference had keynote speeches from prestigious speakers such as the Chair of the Drug Deaths Taskforce, the CEO of the Scottish Recovery Consortium and Public Health Minister, Joe FitzPatrick. They were joined by the leader of Glasgow City Council Susan Aitken, who has said decisive action must be taken to reduce drug death emergencies in Scotland.
The SNP councillor has spoken of the need for safe consumption rooms. These offer addicts a secure location to take drugs and help get them off the streets. They may be a controversial idea in some quarters. However, Miss Aitken called for the UK government to support their introduction.
Miss Aitken maintains there have been indications overseas that safe consumption rooms are effective. They provide drug users secure, protected surroundings and a strong support system. This reduces the possibility of anti-social behaviour and used needles being discarded in the street.
She also told the assembled delegates that, although Glasgow may unfortunately be suffering record numbers of drug deaths, it can still be on the forefront of addressing the situation, through the various measures it could take.
Presently, the Home Office of the UK government has not permitted Glasgow to set up safe consumption rooms. Some believe it may encourage drug-taking and lead to criminal offences like possession and distribution.
Despite their differences, both the UK and Scottish governments believe solving the seemingly ever-growing addiction problem, and the tragic loss of life it creates, is of paramount importance.