Drug users, their families and people working on the frontline to tackle the problem of substance misuse have told 350 delegates at the Scottish Drug Deaths Conference in Glasgow how the issue has affected their lives.
The conference at the Scottish Event Campus was coordinated by the Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council.
It was organised ahead of the UK Drugs summit to ensure the voices of those with lived experience were heard.
In addition to presentations and Q&A sessions through the day, there was an opportunity for guests to see a demonstration model of a safer drug consumption facility and have training in the use of Naloxone which reverses the effect of an opioid overdose.
Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick said:
“I want to thank all those people who have been brave enough to share their stories with everyone at our conference. I will bring their experiences – Scotland’s experiences – to the UK summit tomorrow.
“The problem we face is as brutal as it is simple – friends, sons, daughters, mothers and fathers are dying from drugs.
“I believe we must address the impact of drug use in a way that is public health-led, rather than just a justice issue. That is not a view that is universally held, but it is one that has shown real benefits in other countries.”
Leader of Glasgow City Council Councillor Susan Aitken said:
“Glasgow now records some of Europe’s highest numbers of drugs deaths and the most in the UK.
“A cohort of ageing, long-term intravenous heroin users and the emergence of new, cheap ‘poly’ drugs is fuelling an unprecedented spike in drug-related deaths.
“Glasgow is again prepared to be bold, to innovate in our collective response to the serious challenges of addiction and drug misuse and to help build healthier, more stable lives.”
Becky Wood, who has lived experience, said:
“I think that there needs to be public discussion, we need to know that our politicians and our clinicians in this field of addiction are hearing what’s going on in Scotland.
“Our country should know that the number of drug deaths are an important issue and it is being taken seriously by both the government and people working in this field. These are our people and they are dying, people are needing support, life is hard and they should know we are listening. There isn’t just one answer to this issue there is a range of different things and we are hearing about that and I think it’s a really good thing for us to hear.”