More needs to be done to tackle the number of “tragic” drug-related deaths in the Highlands, regional agencies have recognized.
It comes as recently released figures show Scotland has the highest drug death rate on record of any country in Europe.
In the Highlands, 33 people have died after taking medication last year – the lowest of any health zone for which figures are available.
The Highland Alcohol and Drugs Partnership (HADP), whose members include Highland Council, NHS Highland, Police Scotland, Third Sector, Crown Office, Scottish Prison Service, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and local drug and alcohol forums, said he was deeply saddened by the number of people who have died.
He highlighted various programs aimed at tackling the problem, ranging from a new app to help reduce drug-related damage and deaths to a housing pilot project, but he said everyone had a role to play. play in solving the problem.
Meanwhile, as Highland Police issued a warning regarding a number of people affected while taking illicit pills called green xanax, Hulk xanax or monster xanax, the force also called on young people to join the war on drugs.
HADP said his thoughts were with all the families and friends affected by the drug-related deaths.
“It is tragic that the lives of people across Scotland and in the Highlands have ended prematurely,” said a spokesperson.
“We recognize that more needs to be done to reduce the number of deaths and help people recover.
“In the Highlands, we review every death in order to learn from it and improve the practice.”
Earlier this year, he launched the Highland Overdose Prevention and Engagement (HOPE) app – developed with input from people with drug problems – to provide workers and the public with easy access to information about overdose situations. , harm reduction, emergency response and access to assistance.
Deborah Stewart, HADP coordinator, urged people to download the HOPE app for free, adding: “Tackling the stigma, which often acts as a barrier to treatment, is something we can all do using language that is people-centered and shows kindness, compassion and hope. to individuals and families affected by drug problems. “
Elisabeth Smart, President of HADP, said: “HADP is committed to fighting stigma against people with problematic drug use and bringing individuals, families and partner agencies together to achieve better results. for next year and the following years. “
In another initiative, a pilot project, Housing First, led by the City Council’s Housing Department, prioritizes support for people at higher risk of drug and alcohol-related death who also have problems with mental health and complex needs.
The partnership is also working with local pharmacies and drug-affected Scottish families to expand the distribution of naloxone in local communities, and work with Police Scotland to divert vulnerable people from the criminal justice system to treatment and support services. .
Highland Police have appealed to young people to support the fight against drugs.
A force spokesperson said: “We are reaching out to the young people in our communities to help us and ask you to help us eradicate drugs from our communities.
“We often see young people in crisis and unfortunately overdosed on drugs. Pay attention to each other and if the going gets tough, always ask for help.”
Anyone who is worried about their own drug or alcohol use or that of another person can consult the HADP directory.
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