Sputnik: Why is the drug addiction situation in Scotland so bad?
Ian Hamilton: I think it is bad, but we are seeing record deaths across the UK, it’s just the fact that Scotland is showing the greatest increase, it’s not as though other parts of the UK aren’t showing an increase in deaths, it’s just that Scotland is leading the way unfortunately, and obviously that’s not a record they would want.
In Scotland, like the rest of the UK, it seems like we’ve got a perfect set of ingredients where you’ve got some really kind of toxic drugs in circulation. We have reduced spending on public information and treatment, and that’s just a recipe for disaster, and we’re seeing the outcome on today’s release of yet another increase of drug-related deaths in Scotland.
Sputnik: What could be done to address the issue?
Ian Hamilton: What a lot of commentators tend to do is place the blame firmly on the door of politicians, and I understand why they do that, but I think they are a bit of a soft target in all of this. Really all that politicians do is they gauge the temperature of the people that vote for them.
My view is that its fair game to start criticising politicians, but if we take a step back from it, really all that politicians are doing, is reflecting what they perceive to be the views and priorities of the people they serve.
In that sense, I think we are all to blame; because we view generally people that use drugs as kind of taking a choice in life, and if they die, that’s a self-inflicted personal choice. So we tend to have very little sympathy for people who use drugs, compared to things like cancer, diabetes, or other health problems.
If you view drug use as a health problem, unfortunately, most people don’t want to see that prioritised, they’d far rather see things like cancer care.
Sputnik: Would decriminalisation of drugs be beneficial?
Ian Hamilton: Just by introducing a new way of regulating drugs, then whether that involves decriminalisation or some other model it certainly will help many people, but it won’t help everyone. We may end up actually with particularly younger, naïve users being drawn in that otherwise wouldn’t have started using drugs; and that’s always something that we’ve got to be vigilant for, and just be honest and aware of.
I’ve no doubt it would help particularly those who are the most marginalised. If we did decriminalise drugs, you’d hope people would be sympathetic towards the kind of death rates that we are seeing, but really the greatest risk to the greatest number of people is ending up with a criminal record. So yes it would help a lot of people.
The views and opinions expressed by Ian Hamilton are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.