Tele column – 29th September 2017

In years gone by when I was asked if Inverclyde had a drugs problem, my standard reply was no, there are plenty for everyone. This answer masked both my lack of knowledge and my unease at discussing the subject.  

As a population, we do discuss alcohol and tobacco but as recreational drug use is illegal it can become a taboo subject. Anyone seeming knowledgeable on the subject would imply that they partake and therefore that they are a criminal. Fortunately, that attitude is changing and more people are engaging in the topic. And most interestingly the more we discuss it, the more a health issue it becomes and the less a criminal justice one.  

It is an issue that affects Inverclyde. The death rate due to drug consumption continues to rise and the surrounding health issues, both physical and mental, leave deep scars on our community. To resolve these problems we must talk openly and frankly about the production, availability, quantity, quality and demand for recreational drugs. We must determine how best to educate and support our citizens and all this has to be achieved without prejudice. Within Inverclyde we have a number of first class organisations that help and support people with addictions but I believe we all have a role to play. Suffering with addiction can afflict any person, from any walk of life and the better informed we are the more we can help.

I shall be hosting a public meeting to discuss the UK’s drug policy along with a panel of renowned experts at an event in the Beacon Arts Centre at 19:00 on Thursday the 5th of October. I am hoping for a large turnout so that our community can have its say in reforming the UKs drug policy and hopefully guide the powers that be to adopt a more health centred approach.