A new report from the NHS in Scotland has revealed that Dumfries and Galloway had the highest percentage of drug-related hospital admissions in Scotland due to the use of opioids such as heroin.
The report follows on from the recent revelation that the number of people in Dumfries and Galloway dying from drug overdoses has reached record levels.
The report from the National Records of Scotland published in August showed that in 2016 there were 17 deaths due to drug overdoses in Dumfries and Galloway, compared to 11 in 2015 and five in 2006.
A spokesperson for the Scottish Labour Party commented: “This growth in deaths and the large number of opioid-related hospital admissions comes as funding to alcohol and drug partnerships has been cut by the Scottish Government.
“In 2016-17, the allocation from the Scottish Government to Scottish NHS boards for alcohol and drug partnerships was £53.8m – down from £69.2m in 2015-16.
“In Dumfries and Galloway, that led to a cut in direct funding from £1.98m to £1.53m.
“Although local health boards were asked to make up that difference, NHS Dumfries and Galloway was able to find only £234,000 of the £452,000 shortfall.”
South Scotland Labour list MSP and shadow health minister Colin Smyth said: “These shocking figures come on the back of the recent revelation that there were more drug deaths recorded in the region last year than ever before.
“The fact we have a growing older population, and therefore a rise in the number of older, long-term drug users in the region, partly explains why the figures relate to heroin use and the requirement for hospital treatment.
“It’s not uncommon to hear of older drug users suffering from physical conditions including breathing problems, diabetes, hepatitis, weight loss as well as mental health problems.
“This is often caused by loneliness and isolation as long term drug use can lead to the severing of links with family and non-drug users”.