The families behind Scotland’s drug deaths

Leading Scottish charity highlights the plight of those trying to support loved ones engaging with an ’inflexible treatment system which judges and excludes’

Tuesday 16th July 2019

The mother of a daughter who struggled with drug addiction for several years, Sandra Holmes is well versed in the heartache that comes with supporting a loved one engaging in harmful substance misuse.

Often excluded from her daughter’s interactions with addiction services, Ms Holmes continues to campaign to improve services and is one of the first to contribute to the latest awareness raising campaign launched by a leading Scottish charity.

To mark the publication of the latest drug-related deaths statistics – that show a 27% increase since 2017 – Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol & Drugs launched a campaign highlighting those who have been left behind or are still supporting a loved one through addiction.

The number of deaths we are hearing about today is shocking,’ Scottish Families said, ‘But there is an even larger group of people in Scotland who remain at high risk of serious harm and death...From meeting their basic needs for food and shelter to helping them engage with an inflexible treatment system which judges and excludes, to offering them enduring love, connection and hope for the future, families are playing a central role in saving and preserving life.'

The #BehindTheNumbers campaign seeks to champion the hidden and unrecognised contribution of families in saving and preserving lives and those ‘who continue to be devastated, left heartbroken, frustrated and angry that they first lost their loved ones to addiction, and then ultimately to death.’

Scottish Families CEO, Justina Murray, said: “Our thoughts today are of course with the 1,187 families who lost a loved one last year. But we know they don’t need to wait for these statistics to be published to feel bereft, let down and angry.

This may be a day where the media and the policy-makers briefly shift their focus onto drug-related deaths, but families affected by drug addiction continue to face significant levels of pressure, harm and risk every day.

They want to see real change, including recognition and support for their caring role, better access to high quality treatment and care for their loved ones, and the opportunity to work in partnership with services to reduce harm and promote recovery.

Our #BehindTheNumbers films show we have a long way to go in achieving this, but change must come.”