Scotland retains the unwanted title of “Europe’s drug death capital”. How does the Scottish government tackle the problem? We interviewed Angela Constance, the former Minister for Drug Policy of Scotland, at the 63rd session of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna in March – find the interview in both video and podcast format below!
Scotland was shocked to learn that the number of overdose deaths reached a record high in 2019. Three and a half times more people (1264) died of overdose in Scotland than in England and Wales. When the media published the official figures, the Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, admitted that the government had not done enough to tackle the problem.
The Drug Death Taskforce, a 15-member expert body, was created to identify evidence-based strategies to prevent overdoses. The First Minister appointed Angela Constance to Minister for Drug Policy – a new ministerial position with responsibility for coordinating the response to the overdose crisis. Ms Constance, who has been named as Scotland’s new justice secretary since the interview, introduced several significant interventions as a minister. Including measures to scale up access to evidence-based treatment and harm reduction services. In our interview, we asked how she views the situation now, after 4 years in office. When will the first supervised drug consumption sites open? What does she think about the latest preliminary figures that show a slight decrease in the number of overdose deaths?