Drug misuse can have a devastating impact on an individual. It can hurt their life chances, damage them physically and psychologically and it can often make someone a shadow of their former selves.
But the damage is not just confined to the individual, it extends out to friends and family who suffer emotionally, physically and financially.
The devastation also extends to communities. People living next to drug dealers or drug addicts often feel like prisoners in their own homes and can have first-hand experience of the crimes that drug misuse can lead to.
It is vitally important, therefore, that we have a strategy in place that remedies Scotland’s problem with drugs.
Central to the Scottish Government’s policy has been the prescription of Methadone to drug addicts, with the aim of stabilising their lives as well as reducing drug deaths. Unfortunately however, the most recent figures show that this policy simply isn’t working. There were 546 drug related deaths in Scotland last year, a record high. Tragically this included 20 deaths in Inverclyde representing a ten year peak for the area. Over half were linked to methadone.
For some people methadone can work, but too many people are being locked into a system that doesn't challenge their behaviour and doesn't give them a route out of the lifestyle.
Last year the Cabinet Secretary for Community Safety, Roseanna Cunningham, visited Inverclyde following the news that there had been seventeen drug related deaths in the area. At the time she agreed with me that the rise in the number of deaths was unacceptable and promised a review of the drug policy in Inverclyde.
However, it is clear that vital lessons have not been learned.
The Minister must act now and instigate a complete review of the drug policy not only in Inverclyde but for Scotland as a whole.