Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon speaks at the Parliament in Edinburgh, Scotland on January 19, 2021 (Photo: REUTERS/Russel Cheyne/Pool)

The Scottish government has committed to spend an additional £250m to tackle the nation’s spiralling drug deaths crisis.

“An additional £50 million will be allocated every year for the next five years to improve and increase services for people affected by drug addiction,” the government announced on Wednesday (Jan 21).

The announcement from Holyrood came just hours after the UK government pledged £148m to tackle drugs crime in England and Wales.

Discussions have been moving on with the people, a range of organisations, and the Drug Deaths Taskforce following the publication of a recent report which showed 1,264 drug related deaths in Scotland last year.

In a statement to Parliament, first minister Nicola Sturgeon outlined a number of areas where improvements will be made and a further £5m will be allocated in the current financial year to ensure work starts immediately.

These actions include:

  • widening the distribution of naloxone
  • implementing new standards for medicine-assisted treatment to ensure equitable services for all drug users
  • reassessing how overdose prevention facilities might be established despite legal barriers
  • allocating funding directly to Alcohol and Drug Partnerships, third sector and grassroots organisations to improve  work in communities
  • reducing stigma and increasing the number of people in treatment for their addiction
  • substantially increasing the number of residential rehabilitation beds across the country.

The first minister said: “Anyone who ends up losing their life as a result of drug addiction, is not just failed at the time of their death – in most cases, they will have been failed repeatedly throughout their whole life.

“I believe that if we have the will, we can and we will find the ways to stop this happening.

“Doing so requires a national mission to end what is currently a national disgrace. It is a reasonable criticism to say that this government should have done more earlier, and I accept that. But I am determined that we will provide this national mission with the leadership, focus, and resources that it needs.”

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