By Roland Sebestyén
In a historic move, Scotland will open a hotline to provide professional help and comfort while people are using drugs.
According to Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald, a free telephone line called “Never Use Alone” will be made available for those who are in the process of using illegal drugs. The aim is to cut the record number of drug-related deaths seen in the country in recent years.
The paper reports that the service will launch later this month, with a period of trial in Glasgow, and a roll-out across the whole country shortly after.
Drugs Policy Minister Angela Constance said: “I welcome this phone line which will be operated by We Are With You and which will undoubtedly play a part in tackling Scotland’s drug deaths crisis.
“Many of those people who have lost their lives while using drugs were alone at the time and I encourage people to take advantage of this service – the first of its kind in Europe – to help them stay safe.
“While backing this service, we are also continuing to work to overcome existing legal barriers to implement safe consumption rooms in Scotland.”
The hotline, 0808 801 0690, will be run by the We Are With You charity and is backed by the Scottish Government.
We Are With You’s executive director Andrew Horne told iNews: “The scale of the problem we’re facing in Scotland demands urgent, radical action and we want to do everything we can to help tackle this crisis.
“This phone line is about keeping people safe.
“Our staff will ensure they are aware of what substances an individual has taken and what they are intending to take. They will also find out exactly where they are in case the emergency services are required.”
According to the iNews, a total of 1,339 people died of drug misuse in Scotland in 2020. It was the seventh year in a row when Scotland set a new record.
Meanwhile, as Canex reported a few weeks ago, Scotland recently announced new measures that will effectively decriminalise the possession of illegal drugs.
Scotland’s most senior law officer, Dorothy Bain QC, said: “Police officers may therefore choose to issue a recorded police warning for simple possession offences for all classes of drugs.
“The purpose of the scheme is for individuals to be referred to a mentor to provide support at the first point of contact with police.”
In Scotland, police officers could hand out warnings for all those caught in possession of Class B and Class C drugs; under the new guidelines, this practice will be extended to Class A drugs, such as heroin, cocaine, Ecstasy and LSD.