Drug Deaths

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 17th December 2020.

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The First Minister:

I will commit to ensuring that the resources are available for the actions that we consider to be necessary. That will include rehabilitation services.

In every year since this Government took office, apart from two years when funding for drug and alcohol services did decline, funding has increased. That is not to say that funding has increased sufficiently or adequately, and I accept that.

However, this is about more than money; it is about the approaches that we take and, at the heart of all this, it is about everybody accepting that none of us should accept a situation in which people who use drugs are allowed to fall through the cracks and we see the deaths that we have seen in recent years. They are real people whose lives matter, and I am absolutely determined that we take actions to fix this.

I do not make comparisons with what happens elsewhere because I think that the problem in Scotland is worse than it is elsewhere. We see that in the figures, and we have to take that seriously.

I am not going to shy away from this; I am not going to deflect the criticism. Instead, working with colleagues in Government, I am going to make sure that we do what we have already started to do through the task force, which is to take the actions that are about sorting this and making sure that we do not let down people who use drugs and instead prevent, intervene early and provide the services that allow people to get the help that they need when they need it. It is also about taking action around overdoses and deaths that are avoidable. Safe consumption rooms are not the only part of this, but they are a part of it, and it is important that we also focus on them as part of the package of measures that we need to take forward.