Alison Thewliss, the Member of Parliament for Glasgow Central, has called for a more compassionate approach from the UK Government to drug users following new figures on the number of drug deaths across Scotland.

The new figures show the Glasgow City Council area had the highest rate of drug misuse deaths over a five-year period (44.4 per 100,000).

These new figures come after the Scottish Government proposed the decriminalisation of all drugs for personal use in July.

Ministers in Scotland urged the UK Government to agree to proposals in an attempt to save more lives through this policy.

Speaking at a press conference in July, Scotland’s drugs policy minister Elena Whitham called for a public health approach to tackling the drugs crisis.

She said discrimination would mean people found in possession of drugs were “treated and supported rather than criminalised and excluded”.

Commenting, Alison Thewliss MP said:

“While it is encouraging to see a significant decrease in drug deaths, these figures remain unacceptably high. My thoughts are with everyone who has lost a loved one to drugs. 

“This reduction in deaths should serve as a catalyst for even greater efforts to provide assistance and opportunities for recovery to those who need it most. The root causes of substance abuse, such as poverty, homelessness, and lack of access to education and employment have been exacerbated by over a decade of austerity.

“It is not acceptable for the UK Government to sit on their hands and block efforts to provide harm reduction initiatives such as safe consumption facilities in Glasgow. The Misuse of Drugs Act must be urgently reviewed, as it is a barrier to saving lives and tackling the harms associated with drug use.

“The stigma associated with drug use not only prevents individuals from seeking help but also causes a cycle of shame and isolation. By treating people who use drugs with compassion and respect, we can create an environment where they feel safe to reach out for support.

“Recovery communities have made a significant contribution, building a network of grassroots support. The Scottish Government’s public health approach rightly focuses on providing accessible and effective treatment options, harm reduction strategies, and mental health services. Increasing the availability of life-saving Naloxone treatment has saved lives, and I would encourage more people to get trained on how to use it.

“I firmly support the Scottish Government’s proposals to decriminalise drugs for personal use. We must learn from good practice around the world; nothing should be off the table for tackling this issue which has already cost so many lives and devastated so many families.”

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