A DIRECTOR of one of Scotland’s largest social care agencies has said it was “deeply distressing” that the number of drugs related deaths was now at a record high.
Calum Murray, director of adult care at CrossReach which operates drugs support services across the country, said the funding reductions appeared to be “related” to a “tragic and deeply saddening situation”.
Figures published today by the Scottish Government showed that there were 613 drugs related deaths last year – 452 men and 161 women.
The highest number of deaths in 2014 were among people aged 35-44 – 213 people, which is up from 184 the year before.
The figures also showed there were 527 drugs related deaths in 2013.
Mr Murray said: “Much like alcohol-related deaths statistics published last week, the increase in drug related deaths in Scotland is a great cause for concern.
“These figures are deeply distressing and Alcohol and Drugs Partnerships are struggling due to increasing demand for their services while central government funding diminishes.
“It would appear to be related that less funding for treatment leads to more deaths.
“I am greatly saddened by these figures because behind every one of these statistics is a tragic back story for families who merit great sympathy and understanding.”
Mr Murray said CrossReach had a lot of sympathy for the Scottish Government and recognised that decisions to reduce funding to alcohol and drugs support services would not be made out of choice but, rather, due to austerity measures.
“Government agencies alone cannot tackle this problem and society and individuals themselves have a role to play in this” he added.
“For our part, CrossReach will continue to work alongside ADP’s and other partners with the aim that people will always find hope even in the darkest of circumstances”.