Scotland’s drug shame: Addiction is out of control — and nothing is being done
“Years ago, when I started selling it, I wouldn’t sell it to a woman if she had a kid in a pram,” a middle-aged drug-dealer tells me, within spitting distance of his MP’s constituency office in a Glasgow housing scheme. Like many dealers, this gentleman made his initial incursion into the grim, morally-ambivalent world of drugs as a low-level supplier, turning a modest profit by purchasing relatively small amounts from a bigger player to meet the local demand in his area.
Serious heroin addicts with a high tolerance for the drug become trapped in the hellish cycle of scoring drugs to escape withdrawal symptoms, which isn’t cheap. This is why criminality becomes a necessity for many.
Data recently published has revealed that in Scotland, drug-related deaths rose by a shameful 27% last year to 1,187. That means the death-toll in Scotland was equivalent to five Lockerbie bombings or fifty 7/7s. It is nearly three times that of the UK as a whole, and, per capita, the drug death rate in Scotland is higher than that of the U.S. Yet no national emergency has been declared.
These are called tranquilisers for a good reason. They induce a peace, serenity and sense of well-being that is difficult for even the most prolific and articulate drug-abusers to describe.
To the uninitiated, such a drug may hold an alluring curiosity. “How do the dealers come up with this stuff?” you may ask. But this drug is not the vulgar concoction of illicit dealers, it is a pharmaceutical-grade, state-approved chemical-compound. And one which was so widely prescribed by GPs in the Nineties, that addicts have been chasing its effects ever since.
That’s why, even though drug-abuse is so often framed as an issue for the feckless individual, we must also consider why and how these substances are created – and how thoughtlessly (and sometimes malignantly) they are introduced into society.
What risk-assessments were undertaken before drugs such as methadone, diazepam and tranquillisers were introduced through the NHS? Beyond the risk-benefit analysis on the individuals being legally prescribed them, what other factors were taken into consideration? When drugs are road-tested for approval, their broader social-implications are rarely contemplated.
In poorer communities, ill-health is more commonplace, increasing both the likelihood of treatment and the risk that a patient (or someone in the household taking the drugs) may become dependent. Society is awash with psychoactive substances in an age of chronic emotional and psychological stress. Increasing numbers are turning to drugs designed to treat chronic physical pain and mental health problems to self-medicate the emotional pain, stress and anxiety of poverty and social alienation.
I tell them I have never tried heroin, and they all warn me to keep it that way. Even though they have only just met me, because I have showed them a modicum of respect, they have a genuine concern for my well-being. For in their world of addiction, crime and social-exclusion, telling someone never to try heroin is an act of purest love.
For complete story go to Scotland’s Drug Shame (Uherd.com)
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