Local politicians have expressed concern that the number of new drug misuse patients in Dumfries and Galloway has risen to its highest in four years. The rise comes at a time when numbers across Scotland have fallen to their lowest in five years.
The official statistics, published this week, show that in 2010/11 there were 264 new patients reported with a drugs misuse problem in Dumfries and Galloway. This is a 25% increase on the previous year, and comes as the figures across Scotland have fallen by 1000.
Commenting on the increase, Dumfries and Galloway MP Russell Brown said: “I am concerned that in the past year the number of new drug misuse patients in our region has increased by 25%, to its highest level in four years.
“The fact this comes as the numbers across Scotland as a whole have dropped by 1000 to their lowest point in five years means we need to be asking why our region is going against the trend. People can be driven to misusing drugs for many different reasons and it can very quickly spiral out of control, tearing families apart and putting lives at risk.
“It is also fuels a significant amount of crime, as people turn to theft to fund their habit. There are communities in our region blighted by drug users, and for their sake and that of the individuals we need to do all we can to help them.”
Dumfriesshrie MSP Elaine Murray said the Scottish Government was complacent by cutting the drugs misuse budget by over £2 million.
She said: “The decision to cut the drug misuse budget by over £2 million was wrong and will have far-reaching consequences for people and communities across the country. I am worried that there has been a degree of complacency from the government.
“The increase in drug misuse in Dumfries and Galloway brings with it many additional costs, from the health service through to policing and the courts, so this cut by the government could end up costing more in the long run.
“Often there are deep-seated social issues behind a drugs problem and strong support structures are vital to help addicts kick their habit. Almost half of drug users in our region live with other drug users, and that inevitably makes it harder to remove them from their dangerous lifestyle.”