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Rural drug call from MSP

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By Fiona Reid
Front
Rural drug call from MSP

PROVISION of a drug that reverses the effects of opioid overdose should be increased in rural areas like Dumfries and Galloway, says one MSP.

South Scotland MSP Emma Harper has called on the Scottish Government to take action to tackle drug-related stigma and increase the availability of Naloxone – a drug she describes as the “first line of defence against overdose”.

Ms Harper, who worked as a nurse prior to her political career, said it was important to reduce the prejudice, discrimination and stigma that is associated with drug use.

She said: “There persists the view among the public that people who use illicit and non-illicit substances that cause harm are just low-lives and criminals who do not deserve anyone’s help.

“They do need our help. They are our sons and daughters, our friends and family members, and we need to support them.

“Attracting health workers into jobs in drug and alcohol services is also difficult and there is stigma associated with the health professionals in this speciality too. We must do whatever we can to reduce stigma for all.”

Ms Harper said she welcomed news that families of those who use opiates had been supplied with take-home naloxone kits to prevent overdose during the pandemic.

But she was concerned that these kits were not readily available in rural areas.

She continued: “Rural Scotland must be part of Scotland’s national mission to tackle drug related deaths and the Scottish Government must continue to pursue this as a public health issue, not a criminal issue.”

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