A tiny percentage of Scotland’s population has drug dependency issues. However, the impact this has on family, friends, our health service, the law, our economy and society is disproportionate.
Drug use can lead to drug deaths and complications such as Hepatitis C. Rehabilitation and treatment can be costly, time consuming and is often controversial.
New trends are emerging in how and what type of drugs are used. There is a steady growth in the use of psycho-stimulants. Polydrug use, where a number of substances are taken over a short time often involving alcohol, is growing in popularity. There is growing concern in regard to the increase of “club drugs” and Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS).
Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS)
NPS are drugs made from assorted herbs, chemicals, and extracts which mimic the effects of other drugs such as LSD, cocaine, MDMA and cannabis.
NPS fall into the same drug categories as the drugs they are designed to copy: stimulants (uppers), depressants (downers), analgesics (pain relieving) and hallucinogens (trips). Unlike a lot of drugs that have been around a long time, it is difficult to know the long term effects of NPS as there is not enough evidence on their risks.
The appearance will vary depending on the drug but most NPS are chemicals produced in a lab and will come as a powder, pill or herbal form. NPS can be riskier than the drugs they mimic as they are unknown and many are purer (not cut with other things) so can be a lot stronger.
- National Naloxone Programme
- National Drug-related Deaths Report (Scotland) 2017
- Forth Valley Drug Related Death Research Report 2018
In Scotland, the main route of Hepatitis C transmission is through injecting drug use. Sharing and re-using contaminated injecting equipment is a major form of transmission. Over 85% of people currently diagnosed with the virus have acquired it in this way.
The proportion of injecting drug users who have Hepatitis C is high. It is estimated that between 40 – 60% have the virus. The rate of transmission within this population is also high. Scotland is focusing on preventing transmission of the virus among injecting drug users. This includes:
- Improving the accessibility and effectiveness of drug treatment and rehabilitation services
- Improving the accessibility and effectiveness of needle exchange/harm reduction services
- Preventing drug use among young people