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Drug deaths fears

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By Fiona Reid
Front
Drug deaths fears

A WARNING has been given that the total number of drug deaths in the region is already worryingly high.

Health bosses have revealed there has already been a ‘significant rise’ in suspected drug deaths in the first half of 2021 – with 25 occurring locally in six months.

Although these are all yet to be confirmed, it represents a 39 per cent increase over the same period last year.

There are concerns that people are taking drugs in combination but independent chair of Dumfries and Galloway Alcohol and Drug Partnership Grahame Clarke said there is not one single, obvious reason for the increase.

He said: “The increase in numbers so far this year compared to 2020 is very marked, and we are asking everyone to help do what they can to help address this deeply concerning situation.”

Measures already in place include free Naloxone kits which can help reverse overdoses.

A campaign is also being rolled out to reach users, with a new website offering advice on reducing the risks – www.stopdgdrugdeaths.co.uk.

Mr Clarke said: “At the moment we are seeing a rise in our suspected drug deaths and are looking at these in more detail. We also know that people are taking different drugs in combination which greatly increased the risk to them. In particular, we are seeing evidence of people taking opioids like heroin and methadone along with illicit tablets they believe are benzodiazepines that are bought online or on the streets.

“Drug users are being reminded not to try new substances or to try a very small amount at first to see how it affects them.

“Drug deaths are preventable and that’s why we want to make sure that we tell people about the risks to them and how they can get help.”

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