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Highlands and Islands MSP gets behind new bill to treat drug dependency


By Niall Harkiss

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Mr Halcro Johnston said drug deaths in Scotland were higher than anywhere else in Europe. Pic - Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament
Mr Halcro Johnston said drug deaths in Scotland were higher than anywhere else in Europe. Pic - Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament

A new bill which looks to help people wean themselves from dependency on drugs has received the backing of Highlands and Islands MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston.

Leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Douglas Ross, recently put forward plans for a Right to Recovery Bill in the Scottish Parliament which would see the right to treatment enshrined in law.

Mr Halcro Johnston said drug deaths in Scotland were higher than anywhere else in Europe, but warned that this was not just a problem found in Scotland’s larger cities.

The MSP said: “The tragedy of Scotland’s drugs death problem – the worst in all of Europe – extends to all parts of our country, including communities across the Highlands and Islands.

“We need to see a right to treatment enshrined in law to ensure that no-one who seeks help is denied it. And this needs to happens urgently as the problem is getting worse.

“In 2007, there were 455 drugs-related deaths. By 2020, the last year we have records for, that number had soared to 1,339.

“This has a direct knock-on effect on crime, as drug abuse is often linked to criminal activity which, in turn puts pressure on the police and other services. And it tears apart families and communities.

“There has been extensive consultation with charities, tenants’ associations, churches and others dealing with this issue every day to ensure that the measures proposed in the bill are relevant, workable and will make a difference.

“We need MSPs from all parties to put aside politics, get behind this initiative and give it the support it needs to begin to tackle this huge problem.”


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