SCOTLAND’s drugs death task force says stigma is preventing people with addiction from accessing services.

The annual report of the group set up by the Scottish Government to tackle the rising drug death total has said a range of solutions is needed to reduce drug deaths, which has reached record levels.

The latest figures, which are a year out of date, showed 280 deaths in Glasgow and 1187 in Scotland in 2018.

However, while it is expected the number has increased again, there are no figures available yet for 2019 because of a dispute over toxicology services causing a backlog of cases.

The task force said it has ben seeking evidence but has faced problems due to Covid-19.

Professor Catriona Matheson, chair of the task force said the strategy, calls for a national mission statement to be drafted on how stigmatisation will be tackled.

As part of the strategy, the task force wants drug services to publicly celebrate their success in an effort to “reframe the narrative” around problem drug use and recovery.

Prof. Matheson said: ““The task force recognises that we all need to get away from a search for a mythical, single, magic bullet and towards a programme of implemented strategies that not only works but engenders a new level of trust, sharing and collaboration in Scotland’s key agencies. We believe in positive, sustainable change.”

As part of the plan cash has been granted for 10 studies into various topics including drug consumption rooms and the effectiveness on overdose reversal drug naloxone.

Two researchers from Glasgow Caledonian University will lead studies into the impact of take home naloxone and on the training of people to use the drug and if it has reduced the risk of fatal overdoses.

Joe Fitzpatrick, Public Health Minister, said: ““This is not a problem with a quick solution and I know they have spent many hours gathering evidence about the true extent of this emergency and developing and implementing strategies to tackle it.

“Stigma can come from many sources, but most damaging is self-stigma where people believe they are not worthy of support. It is costing lives every day and I believe this new strategy will help us tackle what is undoubtedly one of the biggest challenges we face.”